Category Archives: Improvements

My Garden’s Secret

The property was loved for many years, there’s no doubt. It’s everywhere. Sometimes it feels like what’s squishing under my muck boots is that love coming up to cushion my feet. It’s in the melody of the birds that wake us every morning. It lures me to walk to the pines. It calls me to interrupt our routine-and what mom likes to do that?-to take Belle and TLD for a quick run in the field or excursion to the barn. I enjoy getting the mail and bringing in the trash bins because I get to stroll down the long driveway that winds around tall maple trees, lots of different evergreens and a gang of hollies. I take proud, sure strides and the gravel softly crunches under me.

Certain maintenance fell off the priority list for the past owner though. As Babe and I become better acquainted with this land and its demands, it’s hard to blame Helen for never raking after Keith died. I feel lucky that the grass was well maintained always, and the grounds are stunning aside from the leaves.

By paying a lawn service and letting the leaves go where the wind would take them, Helen could focus on a large garden till she couldn’t anymore. It took up a good half-an-acre next to the house. She also planted the many hostas and other treasures that I’ve been discovering.

So, about those leaves. It took me and Babe four hours to rake along the path that goes from the barn to the back patio. Four hours allowed us to clean up an area about the size of our old back yard. That’s not much, especially when you think that we could fit about 30 subdivision lots on this property! We cleared years of muck from under trees and between stones in the retaining walls, fallen branches and other debris (empty mason jars mostly). So many leaves: wet and heavy, dry and crunchy, clumpy, confetti-like. We had so many.

Most of that time I was writing my novel in my mind, working out how one character meets another and how certain conversations happen and should I do this or that. Between the birds and crackling leaves it was just too loud for me and Babe to talk much so I could dive into my thoughts as if I was alone. Occasionally I’d leave the desk in my mind to find one of Helen’s babies hidden under pounds of debris. My garden’s secrets were coming to light! I found countless buds and another brick path (to nowhere) under it all.

It was a dirty job and we’re still sore but we had a beautiful time. We dumped the leaves into the back of Babe’s pickup and shoveled them into the brush pile behind the pines. We made five trips back there that afternoon, sloshing and fish-tailing through the wet grass, with country music on the radio and smiles on our faces.

With the bright sun overhead, my overshirt hanging from a branch and glasses of lemonade on the patio step, The Tenderfoot could have been a movie set. There’s nothing easy about the simple life, I’m finding, but I’m joyful here. I’m always so joyful, and often near tears about that.

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Improvements, Moments, Pictures


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Side effects of the 3-bid rule

We have a few repairs that need immediate attention so we’re collecting estimates for them. I’ve been fielding sales calls and collecting quotes so we can compare the bids and weigh our priorities. Honey, shouldn’t we replace the ugly peel-n-stick floor in the kitchen with wood first AND THEN get that new roof the inspector recommended? Prioritizing isn’t my forte obviously.

We’ve also been finding vendors for future projects and requesting several bids for each. Since we moved in we’ve had roofers, handymen, window people, flooring people, water softener people, glass block people and window glass replacement people give us their smiles, pitches and bids and now my head is overflowing with even more useless knowledge than my normal load. For whatever reason my memory is kicking in and I’m retaining everything these people are saying to me. I lost my filter during the move. It’s not awful but it makes me wonder why my brain couldn’t hold this much drivel back in high school.

I’ll probably never forget the debate in the glass block world about whether the “pan” (the old metal basement window frame to you and me) should be removed during installation. I’ll forever retain that some vendors charge sales tax for hard wood floors and some don’t and that none of them should according to Ohio sales tax laws. When replacing the glass in windows, some contractors remove the whole window and some don’t. I could go on (and on).

I take in the backstory of the company, learn about the process and materials and will recite it back to Babe, who is only half-listeneing because-really-WHO CARES? While I impress myself with this ability to recall so much, the trivia is gumming up the decision-making process.

So many questions are rattling in my brain between the factoids and minuscule details, like a pinball caught between the flippers. What’s the better method? What’s the best investment? What’s more energy efficient? Which sales guy is stretching the truth? I’d like to be done with this vacillating so we can take a few more steps forward.

Today I chose the color of the new roof so I guess that’s progress. We won’t see it completed till next month, but it’s a step. “Driftwood”. The shingles are gray with gray flecks. It wasn’t an earth-shattering decision but with roof color only the bad choices are noticed for the most part. Maybe once it’s up and done I’ll forget the brand name of the shingles (Certainteed) their style (Landmark Dimensional) and the name of the color I chose. Hopefully it’ll be just the new gray roof that does its job and I can concern myself with who and what is under it instead.


Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Improvements


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