We Have A Black Squirrel In Our #NewOldBackyard

Everyday for the past week or so, we've had this Black Squirrel visiting our yard where he is gorging himself on the acorns from our Oak trees and the big green/black walnuts from our Walnut trees.   He usually isn't alone so when you see him in contrast to the normal grey squirrels, he really stands out. 

Grey Squirrels I see all over.  But a Black Squirrel?  From Wikipedia:
The overall population of black squirrels is small when compared to that of the gray squirrel. The black fur color can occur naturally as a mutation in populations of gray squirrels, but it is rare. The rarity of the black squirrel has caused many people to admire them, and the black squirrels enjoy great affection in some places as mascots.  According to this story on DNAinfo, they're about 1 in 10,000.   I also just submitted an observation to and noted all the nut-bearing trees we have on the property. 

Right now, Black Squirrel...we're cool.  But Halloween is coming and th…

Spare Cedar Stock For Raised Beds

I have had this load of cedar boards and planks of various lengths and widths in my garage for almost two months just waiting for either me hauling them to the curb (my inclination) or for inspiration to strike for a new project.   They're leftovers from our fence installation and include some 2x4's a few 4x4's and some fence pickets/planks.   With all the thinking going into our #newoldbackyard this fall (see this post about pizza oven planning, this post for 'entrance' planning, and this post about the planning for a water feature for some of the latest on #newoldbackyard landscape design), I've been out there looking at how the sun interacts with the yard to see if I could find the best spot for a permanent vegetable garden and maybe even a greenhouse/conservatory/solarium.  In addition to the pure location planning, we've been thinking of putting in a full irrigation system, so knowing where and what the garden looks like/lays out like is important so …

Lionel Old St. Nick Operating Billboard #6-82002

Yesterday, I posted a photo of an operating log dump car that I picked up for a Christmas present this year and mentioned that I scored a few operating accessories for the boys.  Above, you see one of those accessories in the Old St. Nick Operating Billboard.  This is the first time I've bought an operating billboard from Lionel but I know the basics:  there are two scenes that alternate in between by the rotating of the slats on the billboard. 

The official product listing on show the two scenes and you can see them on the back of the box below.  For each of the boys that I've bought one of these for, I've been buying them boxcars/operating cars and/or track pieces/bridges/switches every year since they were born, so I figure they have enough rolling stock.  To keep their attention, they need operating accessories, right?

And, like me, they only haul out their layout for the holidays and keep a holiday train so the St. Nick piece seems appropriate, right?


Lionel Weyerhaeuser Operating Log Dump Car #82054

Late in August, I went in and did my annual pre-Christmas shopping of the pre-orders for Lionel O Gauge trains at TrainWorld.  They have a section set up for Lionel that includes in-stock items and a bunch of pre-orders from the 2017 catalog.  The pre-orders usually show up late in the fall - sometime around Halloween - so I typically try to get my order in by September to ensure that they get the pieces on hand in time for the holidays.

Last year, my pre-orders came in on varying dates and included a bunch of Disney-related cars like the Winnie the Pooh boxcar, a Dumbo 75th anniversary boxcar, a Pluto walking brakeman car, and a Buddy the Elf car that arrived in February.   In 2015, I pre-ordered this "Where the Wild Things Are" boxcar for one of the boys.

Each year, I buy the boys in the family a new Lionel item and this year is no different.  However, there are a few new folks added to the Lionel list (one because of birth and one just because) and since I've been gi…

ProTip: Tie Up Your Mums

Are you like Nat and I and get your mums from Costco?  You know the massive ones in the big plastic pot that is good enough to display on your front porch as-is?  Then, my friend, I have a tip for you:  Get ahead of things by tying up a piece of string or twine about 1/2 up the plant.  That way, they won't splay on you when the buds flower out and get top heavy.

Fountain Grasses Planted In #NewOldBackyard

Just a few days ago, I posted a photo of the three fountain grasses that Nat picked up in an early fall sale.  After a week or so of them sitting on our driveway, I finally found the time to dig up the holes and plant them in the #newoldbackyard.  I toyed around with planting them in different configurations, but after laying them out in various places, Nat encouraged me to put them in a line because the bed where these are located now, isn't quite defined yet.  And instead of putting them out further from the fence, I lined them up along the fence in a row.  That way, the kids would be a lot less likely to trample them when they come/go in the yard/neighbor's yard. 

To give you a sense of the context of their location, I put them to the south of this Japanese Flowering Cherry tree that I planted at the very beginning of July of this yearIf you look at this photo, these are between the daylilies and the hostas.    I am going to try to baby these and give them a lot of wate…

Hello Old Friend: Anemone In Our New Neighborhood

On the way to and from the bus stop with the girls, we walk past one of our new neighbor's house in the Randall Park neighborhood who have replaced their entire front yard with a perennial garden.  Not an inch of green grass to be found.  Not even in the parkway.  In one of the prime spots adjacent to the sidewalk is this big, sprawling Anemone plant.  If you click on the photo, you'll see that it is still blooming a bit this late in the season and gives me a little bit of joy every time I walk by it.

If you've been following along since we were in our old house (before Equation Boy/Man's house), you might remember that we had an anemone there, too.  It was in the front/side yard, just outside of our front porch and was awfully happy with the location.  The first time I posted about the plant was back six years ago here on the blog.  Our history with anemone goes back to Nat's wedding bouquet - as her friend/florist stuck a few blooms amongst other of Nat's f…