Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sukkah - New and Improved!


It is Sukkot again! I love Sukkot and am looking forward to when everyone else loves it too, so we don't celebrate alone.

This is our third year building a sukkah. If you remember last year, the kit we put together that we hoped would be reusable for several years proved us wrong.

So we were really glad to have some 4 by 4 treated posts I'd bought in hopes of building a back porch a year or so ago, but have just been decorating the side of the house since then. So we changed out the silly little scrap wood corner posts for something substantial.

Here's the first wall we put together; the back wall.

The 4 by 4 posts made each upright corner, and we reused the 1 by 4 pine for the horizontal pieces. The broken boards were reincarnated as cross supports. And the whole thing was screwed together using an L-square to make sure it wasn't catty-whampus.

With only two people, getting these things up and screwed together always reminds me of Laurel and Hardy movies. But there is no way to do it, but to just jump in. So the next thing we did was use that wall (all the walls are 8 by 8 feet square) as a template to get all four corners level. You can see the little scraps we stuck under there to level it out.

Then a side wall was assembled and readied to be hoisted up and screwed to the post very quickly.

Not an easy thing to do. One person has to hold up one wall. Another person has to hold up another wall. Another person has to line it up and hold it. And a fourth person has to be in position to screw it together. With only two people I can't tell you how we accomplished it, only that it hurt, and it's possible one of my arms is still laying out there in the grass.

But it was up. Make sure, if you do something like this, that you stabilize and support those horizontal boards well, so they are not flopping around while you are trying to fasten the whole thing.

Also, you can see a board leaning up against the post. That is being used to support the wall to keep it from alling that way, which was the direction it was inclined to go. We put in the post a temporary screw and tucked that board underneath it. You could actually do that on both sides.

I won't admit that I didn't think of that while we were out there.

Once the two walls are up, the third wall is much easier, and the fourth wall is a breeze to connect.

We did not finish it in time for Sukkot, but had to leave to go do a job. We were back at it the next morning though.

We brought down the fabric we've used every year

and laid it out to staple up.

Well, some of us were working. Apparently some of us were supervising.

So I went and brewed some iced tea. After all, we were supposed to be relaxing by now.

OK... Good.... still relaxing...

And we began putting up the fabric. It was a beautiful day! Sunny and warm, with big puffies, and a nice light breeze.

While I finish stapling

Michael makes a twine grid for the roof.

It's getting pretty hot though, so we used twine to make pretty bows. We really liked this effect. You still have walls, but airflow. Precious Oxygen, I love you!

Neighbor is busy. Looks lovely.

Boy, you turn around for a minute...

Going on the third day now.

We made a trip up for cedar bows.

And tossed 'em up!

Making slight adjustments from the interior.

I love Sukkahs!

Fixed up the front and it was time to enjoy.

And then the rain came in and we've been waiting to get out there and enjoy it.

We love rain and we love when the skies clear.

It's all good.



Can This Garden Be Saved?


My focus is all about reducing cost and labor in the future. I tell you what, this body is getting old, and if I don't find ways to cut corners and achieve either the same or better, I'm going to be crying "Uncle" from some hammock in a very cheap area south of the Border, trying to live on 4o bucks a month and learning to love, and I mean REALLY love, rice, beans, and naked chickens hanging from questionable tin roofs.

One of last weeks projects was to see if we can bring any of the garden in with us to live through the winter and get a head start next year. I've known that peppers are actually a perennial, in tropical climates, so they can be saved in a pot indoors. I will do that as soon as I'm done harvesting peppers.

I've been also taking pinchings and cuttings from just about everything. I have simply never been good at making them grow, but I've certainly been doing a lot of practicing this month.

Here are some failings. These little plants never thrived up there, but they were tough. It took me 4 years to kill them, but they finally died completely about year ago. So I figured it might be time to dump them out.

Do you remember the houseplant I grew so frustrated with, that we whacked it off and stuck the branches in a vase? That was 6 months ago.

Some of those branches were still alive and had grown roots.

So, not having a clue what to do with them, I laid them to rest in this pot.

And covered them up.

Then refreshed myself with a blueberry, strawberry, banana smoothie.

Since I was in a transplanting and cutting mood, this little grass-snuggling-errant from the compost bucket caught me eye.....

Nah. Don't go crazy girl!

The first week of September I planted these lemon seeds. And after about 2 weeks I had a little lemon tree!

As of today, I have a 7 tree lemon grove, and my tangerines and key limes are just about to break free from the soil that buries them, and reach for warm blue skies in Florida. Boy, are they in for a surprise.

And the ginger roots I planted are doing well!

Here are some philodendron (those are easy, except for the time I failed at that, too) I am sprouting for friends, the celery heads are doing well, and..... I'm not sure what else is there in the tiny drag-and-drop view I see. I'm going blind.

So now I'm heading down to the garden to take tomato, pepper, and eggplant cuttings. There's that evil wild amaranth with all the spikes and billions of seeds on every branch.

The tomatoes are feeling better now that the weather cooled off, but it's too late to get much from them. Next year I'll set them up a little better.

I end up with a few tries at tomatoes.

Some peppers.

And the missing giant Jalapeno made a marvelous home for the eggplant I decided to give another shot at life.

The ristras are still coloring nicely.

A special treat, a couple of latent watermelons to enjoy.

I've found my mind wandering more and more to how nice it would be to have a thermal, double-paned, glass greenhouse built all along the south side of a home, about 10 feet wide and 75 feet long. You close it off to the rest of the house, keep it toasty warm, maybe add a few grow lights, and you've got a perfect garden to grow things all year round. Nice seating areas, a fountain, yada-yada. No more of this seasonal prepping, planting, harvesting, and preserving madness. Open it up and cool it off when you can plant a small garden outside...


Minus the pool.

Reality calls.