Jun 21, 2016

Rosy lights and spirea

One of the reasons we decided to not to start from the scratch on the backyard was that it would have been such a shame to rip off the existing plants. Not that we knew what they were. It was almost we had not paid any attention at all to what was growing there before this spring. For our pleasant surprise, a beautiful pink bush started blooming in May. After a bit of research, we identified it to be Rhododendron Rosy Lights. If someone can confirm or advice otherwise, that would be just great!

Rosy Lights

Rosy Lights

A bit later in June, another bush suddenly bloomed in white. This one was identified as spirea (Spiraea betulifolia) (suom. koivuangervo) - we think. It is quite of a modest plant, but yet seems to be complementing its surroundings very well. 



It is like someone, some 20-30 years ago did some thinking how the little garden should be set up. Gardening is not our strongest suit, but we try the best we can. Hopefully we will bring it back to its prime once again. 

Jun 19, 2016

Fixing and cleaning

After seaming, a few more details need to be taken care of before we can rent a sanding machine and finish the surface. There were a few nooks which would collect water so Pekka spent an evening correcting those. Eino, who is quite keen on tools, cables and cars, followed with great curiosity.

Like father like son

Tonight, we also took the first step to start cleaning up the terrace. Most of the junk has been carried away, as we need clear the area for sanding and protecting. To start with the easiest one, however, Minna washed a white structure between up- and downstairs. The brick walls will follow soon, as they are covered with spots of cement dust and other dirt.  

Before and after

Much whiter (and better)!

Let's see if all the details are ready before reaching the first year celebration of the terrace project. Only two more stairs, sanding, protecting and cleaning. And then, we can hang up the hammock!

Jun 15, 2016

Visions - revisited

It was Friday night after a crazy week. The kids were finally asleep and I had just finished working on a blog post.

Time to call it a day.

But the scraping noise outside reminded me that Pekka was still, at 11 pm, finishing the terries seaming, and the sound made me think of an old blog post written back in 2014. 

This post was not about a concrete step in our never-ending renovation saga. Nor did it describe an interesting restoration project. And it was not teamwork, but written by Minna alone.

Instead, it was about respect for those who are truly visionary. For those who are passionate and determined to chase their vision without (too many) compromises. It was about the holy triage of Vision, Strategy and Implementation, and what I had learned during Project Olive Green.

After two years, I still stand behind my words. 

First, it is true what is said about realism: it is the worst enemy of creating an appealing vision. It is not easy to let one’s mind wonder unrestricted. With any project, one should imagine having pockets as deeps as a millionaire’s and a mind as powerful as Neo’s, who could modify the matrix at will. Anything less will result in settling with a suboptimal outcome. So, get obsessed with your dream first, and after you are too committed to give up, just find a way to make it happen.

Second, it is not a single strategy that can lead to a successful end result. Strategies should be adaptable. It is fine NOT to have all the answers when reluctantly crouched at the starting line. And NOT every single corner needs to be polished and fine-tuned before the kick off. A general outline is often more than sufficient. Thus, no need to be perfect. No need to have all the answers. They will come.

Finally, successful implementation is really about three basic things: confidence, patience and extremely hard work. Very few of us do have the pockets of a millionaire. Expectations in terms of time are nearly always unrealistic. And even fewer are ready to commit to the countless hours of work. So always, always add at least 25% to your budget and time needed, and you might get close to what is really required. 

But most of all, one should have no fear. Fear for aiming too high, fear for facing problems or fustration, or most of all, fear of failure. Fear, that sneaks in so well disguised that a mind lacks a fair chance fight back. Forget the fear. Crazy and unrealistic is the way to go. That is, if you want to make extraordinary things happen.

And perhaps, most importantly: know yourself. I am not one of those fearless, visionary people. Quite the contrary. But I am extremely lucky to share my life with someone who is. So each day, I'm learning something new about chasing a vision. Sometimes I get instantly inspired. Sometimes I think he's simply gone mad. But one way or another, it is always a step forward. A step closer to our shared vision.

And by the way, the terrace seaming is completed.

All photos by Nani Härkönen (http://naniannette.fi)

Jun 13, 2016

Slate stairs

The concrete stairs casted last autumn have been screaming for a slate layer to cover them up. So Pekka started by covering the vertical parts. The first step was to attach the slates with cement.

Vertical cover before cutting

Vertical cover before cutting

Then he cut off the excess - a procedure which is both noisy and messy. Next, Pekka started covering the top of the stairs. Sofi and Eino, always eager to help, entertained each other in the far corner of the terrace. Sofi proved to be pretty good in seaming. Eino, on the other hand, focused mostly on making a mess.

Meanwhile in the left side corner

One by one, the stairs are getting covered with slate. Another Pekka's ambitious ideas is starting to slowly materialise, and let's admit it - once again, he was absolutely right. It is going to be a fine set of stairs!

First two stairs covered

Five steps completed

Jun 12, 2016

Eleven white cedars

Next, we wanted to plant a row of smaller white cedars (Thuja occidentals) to give our terrace a bit of privacy. So Pekka drove to Puutarhatukku to pick up the white cedars. The day was beautiful, and the garden view - motivating.

Arriving to Puutarhatukku

We decided to plant 11 white cedars to form a green wall to the right of the terrace.

Ready to plant

And just like that, they were up. The cedars now rise approximately to 1.1 meters, and are expected to grow maybe 15 cm each year.

Lined up

It is fantastic to witness the changes on the backyard. The project has been ongoing for a year, and now things have really speeded up. We are crossing our fingers that perhaps towards the end of this summer, we can finally sit down, relax, and enjoy a cold bear - at our new terrace!

Overview from the back

Jun 10, 2016

Moving white cedars

In addition to the terrace, backyard is another key item on our (endless) to-do list for this summer. We have been going back and forth what to do with it, whether just to tear everything away and start from the scratch or try to work what has been planted already and see what we can make of it. Slowly, we have been leaning towards the latter. Some twenty years ago someone had really put some thought into it, and it would be shame to destroy everything.

At the same time, our friends Maija and Jouni are doing some major work on their yard. When Jouni mentioned they are going to get rid of three white cedars, Pekka got an idea. Those beautiful white cedars, instead of getting burned away in sauna, should move to our backyard! And very soon, Jouni found himself helping Pekka to dig the trees out of ground.

Digging around a cedar

Little assistant observing

First, Pekka and Jouni planned to keep the root ball intact to ensure successful transfer. However, weighing over 200 kg it was just way too heavy to be moved, so they needed to cut it a bit. And a bit more.

Ready to go!

Gone with manpower

Finally, after hours of intense digging, sweating and inevitable swearing, the white cedars were all packed up and ready to start their journey.

Three white cedars on the road

And then the digging, sweating and swearing continued. After eight hours, the white cedar #1 was up, located next to the stairs Pekka has been building. Interestingly, it seemed so much bigger on our yard than in its original place raising to the level of the atrium railing. But it was beautiful. The other two white cedars needed to wait a bit. Enough is enough for one day.

Cedar #1

Cedar #1