14 July 2014

So Many Projects.... Part One

We have been as busy as the bees around Heart's Ease Cottage. So busy that this poor little blog has been sorely neglected. Several projects are coming to a close and the gardens are in full flush, so I thought I had better take a few minutes and catch you up on what has been going on.

For many years, Da and I have been planning a deck on the east side of our house. Until late last fall that project has been on hold due to foundation work that needed to be done and drainage pipes that had to be installed. As in most projects the "ground work" takes as long as the actual project, or longer... For some reason the foundation work was the point where our foot was nailed to the floor. It was daunting, the thought of grubbing around under the house, (too much of that during reconstruction after Hurricane Hugo), forming and pouring a footer in tight spaces, and getting someone to lay up the brick, just kept us looking elsewhere for projects that needed to be done. But then the frame on the glass door started leaking and needed to be replaced, but the foundation work needed to be done before we could replace the door, so we finally had to swallow deep and just do it. It wasn't so bad once we got started.
Da mixes 16, 80 pound bags of cement by hand...Oh, his aching back!

I work the cement into the form, level and smooth the footer surface as well as abrade most of the skin on my forearms and elbows.

With the digging, forming, mixing, pouring, tamping, leveling and smoothing behind us, we can now turn to our mason to lay the brick and put our energies into a final plan for the deck. We have had a nebulous idea of what we wanted for a deck, but when it came time to actually decide what we were building it wasn't as straight forward as we thought it would be. We had to think outside of our original plans to come up with something that fit the space, gave us a nice place to sit and enjoy the gardens but also gave us a mud and mess barrier from the gardens to the inside of the house. Finally, we had a plan and our carpenter extraordinaire George, was scheduled to help Da put the deck in.
Da and George screwing down the decking.
The deck base and railing framework went up very quickly. The pergola was put in place and roofed with clear, heavy gauge, corrugated plastic roofing to allow protection from the weather without cutting out all the light. At this point, We needed to take a break for a couple weeks while I contemplated the design for the deck railing and made the master patterns.

The rails are up and the pergola covered, now what to do about the railing....
A view of the herb garden expansion from our new deck.
I wanted a railing that didn't block the view of our herb garden from the house or from our sitting area on the deck. I also wanted to embellish the railing with hearts, as a nod to the name of our sweet little cottage. So at every opportunity I would sit on the deck or at the kitchen table and look out at the garden area, trying to imagine what my ideas would look like in real life. My solution was to purchase some of the spindles I was thinking of using and to make a kraft paper scale model of my heart motif and then set them in place and continue sitting viewing the gardens until I was satisfied that I had what I wanted. The next step in the process was going to be very labor intensive, so I didn't want to commit it to wood until I was sure I was going to be happy with it.

Once the decision was made, we scheduled time for George to come and help me make my dreams a reality. I designed and cut out a paper template with two patterns one for the large sections and one for the narrower entry sections. George used these paper patterns to make a plywood template that he would use to cut out my Heart's Ease motifs. It took a couple of tries to get it just right, George was very patient with me as I looked over his shoulder and made on site modifications... Once I was happy with the panel,  George used the final template and cut out all my Heart's Ease panels. My heart was doing flips as I watched the first panels go up. It was just as I had envisioned it in my mind, only better!
Cutting out the paper pattern that will be used to make the wooden template for my railing panels
Making the template from my craft paper pattern. The template will not only be used to cut the pattern, but will hold all the boards in place while cutting.

The spindles and panels being put in place on the deck. Oh! How exciting!!! I think it looks great!
This project started last fall with the foundation work, the deck went in during April, and now it is mid July. It took awhile but the deck construction is completed. But I still have a lot of work to do, I need to sand the panels and go around all the heart panels and use a Dremel tool to clean up any rough edges on the motifs before I paint. Then of course, I need to stain the deck floor and caulk and paint the railing and pergola but the deck is now in use and I am enjoying every minute I can squeeze in out there.

The second part of this project is the expansion of the herb garden, followed by the construction of a large pergola cover for my vintage 1957 camper and the continuation of a privacy fence/kiwi trellis that will go behind the herb garden expansion. That work will commence next week. Once the camper pergola is done, we will pour a patio across the walk from the deck. That will finish off the east side of the house projects for this year... whew! I get tired just talking about it!
A view of the completed deck as of yesterday. Now all I need to do is get it painted!
Part two of this post, the herb garden expansion, will be coming up next...

Be sure to stop by for a visit again, and as always I would love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment! Until next time!

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