Friday, February 27, 2009

Palm Tree Dilemma

A man knocked on our door tonight and offered us $1,500.00 for our palm tree in the front yard. That's what he does for a living--drives around and finds mature palm trees for landscape jobs that need them. I have to admit, it's tempting. I didn't like the tree at all when we first saw the house. It's a beautiful tree, but I'm just not a palm tree type of girl. But it's kind of grown on me. It's huge (26 ft), blocks the view of the power lines, and adds a bit of character. I'm going to plant a native oak woodland garden under regardless of whether it stays or goes, but maybe we could use that money to buy a decent sized oak to put in its place. I told my neighbor about the offer and he said "you're not going to do it are you?!?" I just don't know! Jose says he's ok with selling it. What do we do??

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick Update

I haven't posted much lately because, well, not much has happened. But in a couple weeks, I'll have a ton! Our cabinets are scheduled to be installed on the 7th of March (a birthday present for Jose?), the tile should get laid shortly after, and we bought our butcher block counters at Ikea yeasterday! Now all I need to do for the kitchen is buy lights and a faucet and pick out paint colors. Oh yeah, and get all the trim stripped, sanded and stained in the mean time! Lots to do.

Greening the Bungalow

So I'm taking a Green Building Design class this semester and it's filling my little head with all sorts of ideas for the house. I know, I know--how can I possibly say that I want a green house when I refuse to replace our old original windows with new double paned ones? Well, even though I refuse to sacrifice the character of the house for energy efficiency, there are still a bunch of things I am willing to do. And beside, replacing windows is waaaay out of our budget anyway so the argument is moot.
But what I really get excited about is water. I think about water a lot and what's going to happen when there isn't enough to go around. If you think oil wars are bad, just wait til we start fighting over water, which is why conservation now it extremely important. Some day I would love to install a gray water system that captures all of our sink, shower, and laundry water to reuse in the garden or at least the toilets. It's such a waste-all that nearly perfect water washing down the drain to be mixed with our nasty toilet water. I think about it every time I brush my teeth. There's a group called Greywater Guerrillas out of the Bay Area (I think) that has a website all about sustainable household water issues. It's pretty cool. Installing a system is pretty pricey I think and California's permitting process makes it difficult but I still dream about doing it some day.

An example of a greywater system.

Another thing I really want to do, which I think is much more feasible is rain water harvesting. I want to attach water storage tanks to our downspouts and keep the rainwater collected in the rainy season to use as irrigation in the summer. So much of our water runs off of roofs and paving and then into sewer drains and out to the bay. All this water can be collected and used instead of using perfectly clean drinking water to water our rose bushes. Honestly it's a bit ridiculous when you really think about it.

One example of a rain barrel with a hose for watering.

Another larger system of more water collection.

Oh, I also want to put a green roof on the garage!! It would be so cool.

A meadow on the roof. Who would have thought??

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Neighborhood Welcome Committee

Today we got a big fat "Welcome to the neighborhood." As I left for work this morning, I was startled to find this:

Yup. Someone smashed my window and ripped my crappy stereo out of the dashboard. Luckily they left everything else, including one of Jose's guitar speakers that happened to be in back seat. I'm actually more annoyed than angry. The hassle of fixing the window and replacing the stereo is way bigger than whatever they're going to get for my stolen radio. And it frustrates me that I have to worry about parking my car on the street, directly in front of my house! I've never had a garage to park in at any house I've lived in. Why should I need one now? Hopefully it was an isolated incident. The neighborhood really doesn't seem that bad and I get the feeling that the neighbors really look out for one another. Oh well, at least I didn't get my tires slashed 2 nights in a row like my old roommates did a couple weeks ago at the house Jose and I just moved out of! And AAA is sending someone out to repair the damages to my car, so I guess it's not too terrible.