Adding Curb Appeal

We live in such a large country that while one area can be experiencing winter storms other areas will find beautiful warm weather.  For the past three days, while Cat and Pat had accumulating snow I had beautiful 80 degree days perfect for adding the curb appeal I didn’t get to last summer.

Beautiful sight while on walk.
Beautiful sight while on walk.

Work progressed in spurts, but it progressed.  I wanted to first enclose the underside of the deck to keep the cats out.  That didn’t go as planned when the blades I purchased for the jigsaw were too big, luckily I have a multi-tool with a cutting blade that took care of cutting the lattice.

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Since I didn’t have a saw the framing of the lattice couldn’t be completed this weekend which left much not finished but I was pleased to get the lattice temporarily in place between the stairs and ramps to build my planter bed.  Remember this pile of bricks and blocks we collected from all over the property?

bricks

That pile went to good use. First I was able to build the raised planter I desperately wanted to hold hostas and maybe a couple of Shasta Daisy plants or maybe a handful of ice plants. I also plan to add bulbs for spring color in the back of this planter while waiting for the Hosta to bloom each spring. I wanted to save some bricks for another planter bed so as you can see I used cinder blocks in the back and hid them with a single layer of brick along the top.

hosta planter
Cardboard has been laid to prevent weeds under the bricks and more added to decompose in the soil

I still had plenty of brick left, my plan was working and formed the flower bed where I wanted it along the lower ramp. I ran a single layer of brick along the back of the planter, by the ramp to prevent dirt from sitting on the wood supports of the ramp.

ramp planter

My one neighbor has been stopping by regularly to bemoan the constant blowing away of her trash cans and asking if I think this or that scrap would help to keep her trash cans in place. Most days she receives a quizzical look from me as I try to picture what she’s talking about.  Sunday, I looked at the various concrete blocks and weird rectangular chunks I’ve found in the yard and under the deck and decided to surprise her. I lugged the blocks down to the corner and began a wall around the trash cans.

trash corner

I’m pretty sure there could still be more blocks I haven’t come across yet and will gladly donate them to her when and if I do. For now she has a plan to work with and is happy to see a solution taking shape. This may not be the prettiest enclosure but are trash cans on the curb ever pretty? She’s happy and that’s all that matters, well that and the fact I found a use for these blocks to get them off my property. 🙂

The neighbor boy has been here helping every day and asks for any scraps as I cut and discard them.  The scrap pieces of lattice he took home along with some broken bricks to enclose the patio area he has begun to build for his mother. He still has some work to do, such as gluing the strips together once he has enough of them but for now his mother is pleased as could be.

patio

You can see in this photo just how much land this family has with their home. That little strip between the road and the house is all that belongs to their house, they have no side or back yard,  which explains why the young boy likes spending time working outside at my house where he has room to move.

I was sore and needed a break. I took my first trip to the library this year. We joke that Pennsylvania has four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road work.  Well, it’s road work time again which I am not happy about.

roadwork

The sidewalks around here, where there are sidewalks, are so bad that I have to ride in the roads. They have scraped the streets that I need to use to get from my house to any of the businesses which is making for a very rough ride. If you think it’s uncomfortable riding on those streets in a car the jarring is much worse in a wheelchair. They aren’t just working on the road you see but have begun to scrape the street which intersects this one.

roadwork1

Back home it was time to tackle more outside work.

From a distance I can see the image of my home beginning to take shape but suddenly I realized I didn’t like the retaining wall.  The concrete blocks suddenly look as if they belong to another home being so drastically different from the house with its white trim.

retaining wall cleaning

My little buddy was gone on this afternoon but his brother arrived just as I sat down to have lunch asking if I had any work, he was bored.  At first I wanted to just shoo him away and have my lunch in peace but then I realized that I could get a start on the blocks by having him take a scrub brush to them and prep for painting.

I dragged out the white porch and floor paint I originally purchased for the bathroom tile. I’ve used this same paint on the railings and sides of the deck now I added it to the blocks. This is all I got done in three hours when the temperatures began to fall and I had to quit.

retaining wall1

My little buddy’s brother doesn’t have the same staying power as his younger brother. He wanted to help paint but after getting this far announced he really wanted to help but his hand was tired. 🙂  That was fine by me I enjoy working in solitude.

retaining wall2https://lifeinaminimalistfarmhouse.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=681&action=edit

 

The road construction has rerouted traffic to my street. While not appreciating the increase in traffic -its usually so quiet here- I had to chuckle at the number of people who stopped to ask about the paint I was using on the blocks (did I need a special paint? was it expensive?) to expressing shock that you could paint concrete.  Neighbors stopped to tell me how surprisingly good they look painted as well.

View from the deck.
View from the deck.

In the course of the work I also found myself a new handyman (as I was reviewing this he showed up and started the work) who will be building the retaining wall on the opposite side of the drive way with those stones you see littered about and replacing the plywood at the bottom of the ramp with pavers, also found on the property.

ramp base

I think the groundhog that built his/her exit hole right at the base of my ramp has left so now I can have that filled back in and leveled for a proper landing there.

getting to work

I have a whole list of jobs, too hard for me or my little helpers to assist with, for this young man who is supplementing his minimum wage job to support his family by working for me. I offered $10 an hour and use of my tools and I had a worker.  You can see in the corner of the above photo that my little buddy is back and supervising the current work.  🙂

I also solved the problem of why the other “licensed” handyman hasn’t returned my calls but instead answers my son.  When I moved here I did what a lot of people do, I kept my cell phone number.  When I called the handyman to schedule work he saw the area code, knew it wasn’t from the Pittsburgh or surrounding area and ignored both my call and voice mail. He’s apologized profusely but he still hasn’t arrived to do the work.

Just when I thought the handyman situation was worked out, my son called this morning giving me an opportunity to reverse roles on him. Turns out he has just bought three new houses, two of which need work before they can be rented,  and this particular handyman now isn’t calling him back now about starting the work. My son is ready to severe ties with him and I had to remind him he insisted I learn to be patient.:-) There’s a huge difference between what I want done and getting repairs on a home so you can rent it but I at least had my chuckle for the morning. On the upside my son is trying out a new guy and if my washer isn’t done soon he will send the new guy out.

Progress…I see progress.

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27 comments

    • I can’t help smiling when I see what he’s trying to do with the scraps he takes from here. I think he’s going to grow into an adult who has a hard time throwing anything away. 🙂

      You have no idea the amount of stuff left behind. There were items in the house such as a dresser mirror and a window air conditioner unit. There was also a huge bookcase upstairs that would have had to be disassembled to get it out but outside…the amount of things we found is endless. I found a nearly new set of skis in a case in the shed. Lumber everywhere and of course all the old windows were stuffed under the porch. I keep wondering what plans they had for the blocks and bricks as they were just thrown in the yard but none were ever used.

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  1. love all the work you’ve shown us.
    so now, I have an “idea” for you..
    all those lovely white blocks you are in process of painting?
    well, I can just picture you/your helpers painting something on the white, or every so often on the white when they are complete…mmmm not sure what…but..

    (I once was at a friend’s house and she had just put up some border of wall paper around the room, houses with windows. I suggested she paint faces in the windows…grin.

    seems like you might have found a good option, with a worker showing up. and yes, I thnk ten and hour is more than fair. considering too, it will be cash/tax free, likely a good deal for both of you. And I suspect your little helper (as seen in pic), is not just supervising. I suspect your helper is reveling in having a close proximity to a male role model, and great ful to learn from him.

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    • I like the idea of faces on the wallpaper border but no, not going to have any art on the retaining wall. I’m a bit strange like that. I like to keep the creative side of me indoors and like a very crisp clean look outside.

      You could be right about my little buddy. He didn’t bug to help much but just sat and watched. Of course when it was time to fill in between the pavers I suggested to the man to use large pieces of rock from the end of the drive and my little buddy ran to get the rock and put them in the gaps himself.

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  2. Holy Moly! You’ve been busy. I don’t envy you with the road construction. I mean, it will be nice when it’s paved, but oy – I HATE riding over that scraped stuff on my bike, I can only imagine what it feels like from your chair!

    And honestly, never in my wildest dreams would it occur to me to paint concrete. Or course, since my goals are (ahem) decidedly more focused on low maintenance than beauty, my thoughts on concrete are – yay concrete! It doesn’t need to be painted! But I’m gonna have to bite the bullet once the weather warms up and dries out a bit, because most of the paint has totally peeled off of the siding on the south side of my house – the steel siding with the “lifetime” guarantee! (Apparently people don’t live long in this company’s view). Anyhow, CatMan bought me an industrial strength paint sprayer for my birthday (he’s a hopeless romantic) so I have the tools, now I just have to deal with prepping the surface and finding the right kind of paint to stick to metal – any tips?

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    • Cat, you have me beat there. Those thin tires on a bike have to be horrendous on scraped roads. For me it’s just an uncomfortable ride but for you it can be downright dangerous.

      There is very little I wouldn’t think to paint, I just need to know when to stop painting things. 🙂 I had no intention of painting those blocks until right before I went out to start. My thought before that was concrete block, good, I won’t have to replace them…ever. The whole time I was painting I was trying to decide if I would like them in a couple of years if the paint wore off in spots or would I retouch them. Still haven’t decided that one.

      Hey I’m not the only one painting the exterior of the house! I have never used a paint sprayer, shocking isn’t it? 🙂 The only recommendation I have for you is to buy a quality paint made for exteriors, oh and clean it good first. I was raised to believe Sherwin Williams was the best, and it is but it’s also pricey. I am using Behr on my house (I have aluminum siding). I have found Dutch Boy paint doesn’t hold up after a couple of year so won’t use that again.

      And tell CatMan I love his choice in gifts. 🙂 Any man that gives me tools is a keeper. 🙂

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  3. Lois I do not know how you managed to life those huge building blocks to the bins.. your arm muscles must be in great shape LOL..
    Love what you have done with the bricks and the paint job.. So pleased too your little helpers are still helping I smiled at the one whose hand ached lol.. hehe..
    Lovely little patio area he is creating for his mum.. Love his inventiveness Lois…
    And my smile was even wider when you turned things around on your Son and told him to be patient LOL..

    The roads are bad here too Lois, lots of pot holes.. But the pavements/sidewalks are in better shape.. It is dangerous having to move on the road.. Especially now traffic has been diverted and you are getting more traffic through..

    Sending you lots of love and hope you enjoy your weekend
    Big Hugs
    Sue xxx

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    • Sue, my arms are one of the weakest parts of my body but my grandparents told me as a child that I could do anything anyone else could….just differently. So in the case of those blocks I simply pull enough to get them on the footrest of my chair and then ride them to where I want them and plop them in place. 🙂

      The boys are here daily. The youngest stops as soon as he gets off the school bus to ask what I have for him to do. Some days I have to struggle to come up with something before his knock on the door. When you have so little outdoor space and are a child you either find someone willing to let you play and work on their property or you get in trouble out of boredom. I’d rather be the crazy neighbor lady who has all the kids at her house than see these boys getting in trouble. 🙂

      I can only imagine how bad your roads are as I heard you had a pretty wet, cold winter. The thing that bugs me is that the road wasn’t half as bad as the sidewalks but that’s where they are putting the money. Shows this town still gives priority to cars over pedestrians. The people driving around here are still not sure what to make of me riding around town. It’s a big change from a town that catered to the disabled but I’ll keep doing what I do and let them work it out for themselves. The one problem I have with no decent sidewalk is that I can’t go places after dark or at least have to plan to be home before it’s dark. It’s a bit frustrating but I’m learning to adjust.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is Terrible that the pavements are in such bad repair.. At least here they do give priority to the pedestrians and have on most pavements made ramps for wheel chairs ect.. We are extremely lucky that way.. The roads though are constantly being mended.. Filling in the holes which soon decay in the heavy down pours..
        But we can not have it all ways..

        Yes I can imagine the boys want something to keep them from being bored.. My Granddaughter is not long as saying she is bored :-).. She loves to keep occupied .. So I can only sympathise as to you keeping them entertained productively must take a lot of forethought .

        As for you lifting those bricks.. I am still amazed at how you manage.. I was in the allotment this morning digging out some heavy clumps of grass .. I had to have several sit downs. As I was getting back ache and a sciatica nerve pain in my leg due to me bending over too long..
        It will learn me to pace myself more… But I was fine when I got home and had a cuppa

        😀

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        • There is absolutely no consideration for pedestrians or bikes in this town. There are no cross walks for safe crossing and no bike paths. Guess you need to start with sidewalks before you can ask for bike paths. There are days I wish I could pick up this house and move it to a community nearby that has safe walks but it is what it is.

          The last few years before I lost my ability to walk I too would have horrible pains shoot down my leg and even numbness in the leg so I feel for you after all that work at the allotment. Now I find myself getting stiff from being in a seated position so long, moving around as much as I can helps. 🙂

          I don’t know about you but I doubt I’ll ever learn to pace myself as I get too excited to be able to get to work once spring arrives. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I am a glutten for punishment as the saying goes when Spring is here.. My hubby paces himself, and is always telling me to leave something for tomorrow.. 🙂 I think is stems from all those years I worked in the factory environment.. When you had to earn your money doing piece work.. Crazy I know.. Even when I was in training I would plonk myself on machines and help get orders out.. 🙂 when we were short staffed.. And Whiz around the homes of those I supported cleaning etc. when we were not supposed to do that kind of thing.. I couldn’t help it.. It is the way we are..
            The back and hip are more comfortable today Lois thank you.. I spent my morning getting my case packed ready for Scotland next week.. I am ready for this holiday.. Just when it looks we might need our snow shoes too 🙂 haha.. as its given snow out for next week.. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • I think it’s just my nature, I love to work and can be quite the workaholic. Enjoy your vacation, I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland

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    • I made the mental correction when I saw it. 🙂 I too hate spell check. My kids laugh at some of the ones I miss. My phone changes my son’s name to Islam which everyone thinks is hilarious.

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  4. Progress is always good. I like the white on the block wall! There is never any end to the work. Good help is hard to find and when they are good, they can blow you off easily because they always have more work somewhere else. Sad. Have a great Sunday. Gotta go to work now.

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    • Well, I’m back to looking for another handyman as this one informed me he just doesn’t feel like going outside but will eventually get around to helping me. Grr. This person is supporting a family from a McDonald’s salary so my offering him $10 an hour, cash at that, is more than he makes at work but still I can’t get the work done here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sigh..head shake..bigger sigh

        you gotta wonder about some folks…what you were paying him was worth more, as it is cash/tax free…(and besides, he gets a nice employer…grin)…

        sometimes I think there are genuine reasons for this type of thing. For example…quite possibly he feels sick out in the sun…(and he might be embarrassed to discus this/not really understand it is possible/etc)…
        he might chuff down/take home enough food from McDonalds it supplements his family in a big way…(officially or unofficially)…etc…

        good luck

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        • I don’t know what his issue is. I ran into him on the way home Sunday afternoon as he was leaving a job cutting grass and weeding. I don’t know if they pay him more or he’s known the family longer but when they call he shows up.

          He brings enough food home from McDonald’s but they don’t give it to employees for free, he has to pay for it.

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        • Thanks I think I need it. Some areas where I need to hire out are falling into place, it’s the general handyman and unskilled labor that’s not such a smooth process. I could easily open a phone book and see about hiring handymen but would like to give the work to someone who could really use it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I just don’t get it. When I was struggling to raise my children I did anything to better our situation. I can’t count the jobs I accepted just to have a little extra for us.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I understand. I used to get very frustrated with people. Now I know better. They are where they are and it’s not my job to change them. You and I read because we want to learn. I can’t tell you how many don’t even bother. My job is to do my best. That’s all that matters. I help when asked but leave the results up to the other person. It’s very freeing.

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          • Yes, I’ll help when asked but I know I can’t change anyone else so I don’t bother. It’s hard to keep my mouth shut when I see things but I’m getting better at it. 🙂

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