Friday, March 19, 2010

Benicia Wildlife

I was just thinking - I love wildlife. I wonder what kind of wildlife I'm likely to encounter once I move to Benicia. So I did a little research and discovered that there's a wildlife refuge in Benicia called Benicia State Recreation Area. There are so many birds and mammals there I absolutely can't wait to move into Wellington and ride my bike over to the Benicia State Recreation Area where, apparently, I'm likely to discover such wildlife as:

Only kidding. This is a bandicoot. Isn't he cute? He's a marsupial omnivore (of course he is) that you're only likely to encounter in New Guinea or Australia. I'm not holding my breath. But look at this one:

He's called a salt water harvest mouse. I wonder what he's harvesting.

And these two guys are very closely related on account of their tendency for gnawing on wood: the California golden beaver and the muskrat. It's interesting to note that in the article on Wikipedia regarding the Benicia State Recreation area, they claim the California golden beaver migrated from the California Delta to the Benicia State Recreation Area in 2007. I wonder why and I wonder how they know.

As if that wasn't cute enough, I'm gettin me an otter! There are river otters in this park and that's my favorite otter. I saw a dead one once.

And to keep the food chain balanced, they've thrown in a coyote.

As far as birds go, I'm likely to see any of the following:

These three are all "rails" and I think that means they're noisy, which is fine with me. The first one is a Virginia rail (which I thought was a dance and really should have nothing to do with California wildlife). The second one is the black rail (what were they THINKING?). And the third one is the California (yay!) clapper rail.

This beautiful little guy is called a saltmarsh common yellowthroat. Then there's the Suisun song sparrow which is not only local, he's alliterative and that makes him doubly special.

Alright. That sounds fine for now. Let's get me a house.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Landscape Diversion 1: Golden Catalpa

Our first Landscape Diversion is the Golden catalpa, which is a SPECIMEN TREE requiring sunny exposure and well drained soil. But the great part is that it will withstand poor soil and pollution. One source said it blooms from mid to late May and the flowers smell bad, but I like the foilage. Someone's gardening journal said that the flowers smell really pretty and look like orchids.

You have to prune it to keep it from getting really huge. Here's what the flowers look like:

Here's how it looks when you keep it bush-like.

And two examples of what it looks like as a tree. One with flowers, one without.

I like it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daily Diversion 2: Pots and Picket

Here are some more ideas I got. First of all, the walls along side the steps are fairly narrow and
are probably not able to hold flower pots, but here's an idea. Why not put some squarish pots in front of those little walls?

It makes them look cuter. And you can put window boxes right on top of the porch walls, too.

And here is an example of a picket fence I like. Not only are the pickets pretty good, but the little retaining wall is a nice concept. I like the idea of building up the front yard just a bit, adding a retaining wall, fronting it with some rock like this, and putting the fence on top of that.

Also, I'd like to get rid of the old mailbox and put a nice one up by the front door. Something like this. But with 335 on there.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Road to Wellington

The road to Wellington has been a long and windy one, paved with MLS printouts and the sweat of my brow. Sometimes mixed metaphors come in handy. I'm not sure this was one of them, but there it is.

The first house we ever wrote an offer on was (don't say it out loud) Lomita. Lomita was one in a million and unfortunately for us, someone else thought so first. So in the spirit of Early Bird Gets the Worm, First Come, First Served, You Snooze, You Lose - we lost. It's a sore point with us, so we won't be mentioning it again.

Next came Congressional. (Don't say that one either.) Come to think of it, all the above adages would fit with this one as well. Although we thought we were quick on the draw, someone else was a wee bit quicker and a wee bit more flush, if you know what I mean.

After Congressional was Rockville. While some people wouldn't agree
with me that this was a house worth loving, it was. If you don't take into account its mold issues. But in my defense, as soon as the mold issues were disclosed, we cancelled the escrow which never really was. Poor little house. Nice lot, though. Right on the golf course. And five palm trees. You can't beat five palm trees.

There were lots of other "almosts" in there, but I don't have room for all of that. Let's just say this: I counted a while back and the husband had been to see 30 homes since we started looking in August or September, and I've been to about three times that many. So you can't say we haven't done our homework. I think it's time for us to snag a house and jump inside. And Wellington is just the house to snag.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Painted Cement

What about painting the cement on the front steps? On this episode of Curb Appeal these people took their brick cape cod and made it into and Craftsman style (like Wellington!) and they painted their plain cement "persimmon". It looked really good, see? Plus they covered the sides of their cement walls in manufactured stone.

No new news except MORE WAITING. Spent some time today on the street and it was peaceful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daily Diversion 1: Cape Cod Makeover

Let's think of something to do while we're waiting. While we're waiting for something new to do! That was Mr. Rogers, of course. A source of many a musical utterance that erupts from my vocal chords. But very apt in this case since:

a. We have not yet heard if the bank has accepted our offer.
b. We need something to do while we wait.
c. Wellington needs something done to him.
d. HGTV has the show Curb Appeal.
e. I have a laptop that can play Curb Appeal shows.
f. I have a laptop that can also capture images on the screen.

So with these things in mind, I have recently been captivated by a particular episode called "Captivating Cape Cod." Before you say Wellington isn't a Cape Cod, I would like to point out that he has all the spunk and appeal of a Cape Cod, so could benefit from whatever sprucing up one might do to a Cape Cod. Here's what I'm talking about.

This is the little Cape Cod in question. Not too bad, actually. But its owner thought it was boring and apparently hated cherry trees. So she managed to talk Curb Appeal into coming over and revamping her house.

First they shoved some blue paint on there and redid the roof. They added a portico, too. None of that is necessary for Wellington. But here's something I liked. They put on this dutch door (don't pay any attention to that guy, he just works there). I always liked dutch doors, but they seemed impractical because if you open the top half you have a big hole in your house. BUT with the help of modern technology, they have added this little screen thingy that is actually attached up inside the top part of the door frame. You pull it down and you have a screen door that's cute instead of ugly!

Then they added these pieces of picket fence. I'm not too interested in pieces of picket fence. I want a whole picket fence. But I like this style.

There's that guy again.

And for the garden I just loved these two plants. The first one is goldenrod. But the second one is called, I'm not kidding, White Turtlehead. Not only that, it's supposedly the host plant for the endangered checkerspot butterfly.

Here is the "after" photo. The cherry tree was murdered and they didn't do a whole picket fence for some reason, but other than that I think it's pretty cute. I particularly like the window boxes.

Alrighty. All done waiting now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Some Ideas

Still waiting patiently. But until then, here are some ideas.

How about a dogwood tree in front?

And also, his fireplace is a little boring. But this kind of thing could spruce it up.

Some people discovered my blog. That's okay. He'll be glad I started this blog once we know Wellington is ours. I hope Wellington is ours.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Colors, Colors, Colors

Here are some more paint colors and an idea for a picket fence. We still don't know if he's ours or not. But we're collecting data in anticipation.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Here He is Again

Here's a better picture of Wellington. The other one was the MLS photos. See what I mean? That first photo was so dark, you hardly noticed him at all. This one's not too much better because he really needs some help. But at least it's brighter.

Now don't get all excited. This isn't the "after" picture. This is a picture of a different bungalow that has a very nice paint job and a nice little rock wall in front. Something like that might make Wellington happy.

No news yet. It is Sunday, so I wasn't expecting any. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Meet Wellington

This is Wellington.
He's not ours yet. But we're hoping he'll soon be ours. In the meantime I've taken to day-dreaming about him. So I figured I'd start a new blog dedicated just to Wellington. If we don't get him (don't say that!) I will just have to find a new house to obsess over and start a new blog.

But I don't think that way. So just sit here on this new Blog, Wellington, and we'll contemplate our future together.

We met Wellington in February. We had seen his little face for weeks and weeks staring back at us unpretentiously while we hunted fruitlessly for a new house. But he was patient, and eventually we took a fourth look at him, made an appointment and went to visit. Some of us scoffed in his face upon first seeing it in person. But others of us decided to give him a shot. When we stepped inside we were so surprised to see him in all his splendor. One of us felt instantly at home for many reasons, not the least of which was his little nooks and crannies. Others were a little more reserved. But those others are always a little more reserved and before we knew it, we were in escrow! Sort of. But Wellington's is that special breed of listing that requires approval from all sorts of beurocrats before you can OFFICIALLY get into escrow.

So we sit and wait and pretend to continue the hunt for the perfect house. But we know we've found the perfect house already. Wellington. It's frustrating to have to wait to be told that he's going to be ours, but we're trying to be patient, as we said.

Wellington is beautiful on the inside, but I know he would be so much happier if he was a little more beautiful on the outside. One thing I like about him is that he looks like a little ordinary bungalow. But he ISN'T. And I want to preserve that. But let's face it. He's going to need a paint job and some landscaping. Something like this:

This is a farmhouse with a cottage garden. It's not exactly a bungalow, but the colors are good and I like the cottage gardeny feel to the cottage garden. I think Wellington would like it.

We're thinking Wellington would like a picket fence. I haven't decided if it should be right along the edge of the sidewalk or up on top of the little bank. I also think to the left where the fig tree is (I didn't tell you he has a fig tree!) there should be an arbor made with the white pickets and it should have a vine growing up it. Something evergreen yet flowering.

Like this Lady Banks Rose (rosa banksiae). It's evergreen and practically thornless. I love these. They grow fast, but you can keep them pruned back. And they flower a lot. It has to be the banksiae because the normalis doesn't have fluffy flowers.
We will also need a new wooden bench for the front porch. And maybe a new mailbox.
But let's not get too ahead of ourselves. He's not even ours yet.
Oh, Wellington. Please be mine.