Not deferential enough: Summer projects

Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Summer projects

Last year's summer project.

by Gina Hamilton

Okay, you can feel it.  It may still be August, and the days may get hot as Hades during the day, but when you get up in the morning, you can feel that little tang, that little nip in the air, that tells you that fall is on its way.

I am not really very happy about this.

My summer project ... fixing the retaining walls under our deck that had been tipping over into a corbeled arch ... has not yet been completed, because the estimated cost of the project has run over by thousands of dollars.  The Previous Owner, whose name is uttered ever in an oath, made so many errors while building the deck that many of said errors had to be fixed before it was safe to work on the retaining walls, and now one of the walls is out and the other is still leaning, and there is nothing to prevent a mountain of mud from falling back into the walkway (or 'crouchway', perhaps, as one of the supporting beams had to be replaced with a much larger beam) and we will have to lay in a few cubic yards of crushed stone.  But before we can do that, we have to clean up the yard, still littered with debris wood (I am still unsure why SO much wood was purchased) and concrete from the wall that has been taken down and other bits and pieces that the contractor has not yet put in place.

I suppose I will have to call him and ask when he is planning to be back, because some of these issues do need some resolution before the weather closes in.  The wood can be used, of course, as we finish removing our lawn and putting in beds for planting.  But the concrete has got to go, and I'd like to fix the walkway round the back where I have to go twice a day to see to the chickens, and then of course we have to buy the crushed stone and rake it down into the crouchway.

Some of this has to happen pretty soon, because we also have to do our garden cleanup, and currently, there is no way to even get to the brush pile and it's not easy to get to the composter, either.

And, I have to put in a shed before we order wood pellets, have to climb up to remove the gutters, have to trim the trees that are on the house, and so on.  Just a lot of stuff to do.

So I rather preemptorily informed husband and son and heir that we'd have to move the wood this weekend.  Last weekend, it rained; when it wasn't raining, it was so hot and humid that we wouldn't have got much done.  But this weekend, it must happen.

We can store all this spare wood in the ancient root cellar; there is plenty of room, and it's more or less dry.  But the cement must go, and I'd really like to figure out what we're going to do about a, well, retaining WALL, since that was the whole point of this project, after all.

Somehow, last year's summer project, for all its misery, went much better.  In one of my dime-design moments, I refinished the kitchen.  It was a horrific mix of dark, early colonial, scratched-to-hell woodwork, red brick façade, old and very icky tiles, coming up in a dozen places, not one ugly counter color but two -- harvest gold and forest green, and the pièce de résistance - a homemade lighting fixture that looked suspiciously like (and was subsequently used as) a cold frame.  Using less than $500, I replaced the light with a hanging fixture above the island, covered a junction box with another small light fixture, ripped up the tiles, sanded and painted the floor a dark mariner blue (and painted the window trim and spice racks the same color), whitewashed the bricks, painted the paneling and the cabinetry white, put in some nice nickel drawer pulls throughout, and painted the countertops with a product meant for countertops, in blue.  My friend Jean sewed new curtains to shield the laundry room and under the sink, and I bought some accessories -- blue glass bottles and trap floats -- for the window, as well as some new tea towels and rugs and other things to go with the new decor. I came in under budget.  It was done in three weeks, tops. 

It was miserable, but you could see some progress each day.

Not so with this summer's project.  Finally, we have our deck back ... mostly ... but the gate is not yet on, which means that if we use the ramp we have to move the heavy gate in one large piece to do it, and one small part of the railing was not the right height.  The contractor knows this, and will be back to fix it, but the bigger issues have to do with the retaining walls themselves and the thing that is supposed to hold up the side of the deck nearest the railroad bed.

It's not what I envisioned, to be sure. 

Even so, I am sure everything will be tidied up and squared away by the time it snows.  I only wish that summer projects didn't take up the best part of the summer.

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