A Four-Day Weekend Means…

The stone and brick steps to the backyard BEFORE being stripped of vines and more.

Boy oh boy, have we been busy little bees!

These stairs are narrow, uneven and problematic with the chain link fence so close to them. Nonetheless, I cleared them and we are using them to access the backyard from the west side of the house.

Around here, the news that my husband would have four days off from work translated to “Amazing loads of sweat and backbreaking labor in both of our futures.”

The backyard “before” picture on Saturday morning. Believe it or not, this is AFTER the initial weed whacking from two weeks ago!

There is, after all, quite a lot to do. I had been tackling the side yard that borders my herb bed, planting hostas, daylilies and other perennials as I cleared the weeds. With Dave on board, however, we could tackle even more.

This photo can not properly convey the ovewhelming amount of vines, rubbish and yard waste we have to clear. It is filled with weeds, trash and will take us several weekends to clear completely. Along with the 40+ rusting paint cans around the corner. Aieee!

In the past three days we have managed to:

  • Clear almost the entire 4×20 bed of weeds and plant plenty of perennials
  • Mow the grass and weed whack the fence line along with the path along the west side of the house to the backyard.
  • Clear another planter directly in front of the porch along with a path of bricks I had no idea were even there!. They were covered with a thick layer of soil and weeds.
  • Remove and clear the thick layer of extra dirt the gas main guys had heaped along the base of the chain link fence.
  • Dug up the remains of one pole that could have hurt someone if they walked over it.
  • Swept the front porch
  • Cleared the inside of the house of most of the¬†trash upstairs – filling three trash bags (trash amnesty day is right around the corner)
  • Determined where we need to go to rid ourselves of the 100+ paint cans that are filling the front room, the basement and a section of the backyard
  • Weed whacked and mowed more of the backyard and filled a trash bag full of trash.
  • Moved a heap of yard waste to the back alley (we will take it to Missouri Organics to be mulched next weekend)
  • Dug up a crap load of daylilies, moved and replanted them.
  • Cleared the stone and brick steps down to the backyard (no more vines and dirt!)
  • Mowed the rest of our properties

Now if that list doesn’t make you exhausted just reading it, then you are always welcome to join us. We could use a hand!

The newly weed whacked west side of Cottage East (looking from back to front)

All of this, while my body is aching and uncooperative.

The front porch planter cleared and the old brick path revealed. Ta da!

We met with two potential contractors today as well. One, a siding company, seemed to be unprepared for the reality that we are facing and told us they couldn’t help us. That was rather surprising.

I weeded this planter area as well, uncovered the old brick path, and planted daylilies in it.

The other guy, who owned a foundation company, assessed all three of our homes and gave us quotes on two of them.

The Cottage East (our newest acquisition) will need around $4,000 – $8,000 worth of foundation work. And the Cottage West needs around $5,000. The good news is that the Cottage West is not urgent and can be put off for a while. But the Cottage East will need work sooner rather than later.

I’m laying some of those side wall bricks directly on the broken concrete sidewalk. I’ll edge with bricks set on their edges, level anything too uneven, and then brush sand on top to close up any gaps.

On Wednesday I have two more siding companies coming out to give bids. Both do siding, windows, exterior doors and roofs, so I’m hoping we can wrap it all up in a nice bundle and “get ‘er done.”

Basement window well BEFORE

That will be a heck of a financial hit, but we can finance it until more money is freed up in April 2018 and then knock the balance out of the way.

Basement window well AFTER

A dear friend came over yesterday and looked it over. She had some great advice on the design of the kitchen as well as positioning of the dining room and more.

That hard working man of mine leveling the edges and hauling away the extra.

As I turn the areas over in my mind, I can see that Cottage East will be a whole house Airbnb, not parted up into separate rooms and co-cohabitation like I had originally thought. It will be great for families who are traveling and want room for kids and more.

As we drove through the neighborhood today I saw this stone lion face fountain. This is exactly what I want for the backyard!

Imagine spending $200 per night to stay in a house, with a full kitchen and laundry facilities available to you and your family.

It will be a couple of years out, but we are on our way.

The back porch – I would like to see this rebuilt to twice the depth and be able to hold an outside table and chairs.

I will admit, it is a staggering amount of work and money. I want to do it RIGHT, and I also see it as an investment in our future.

The white house our neighbors bought. I can’t wait to see what they do with it!

My paternal grandmother did very well for herself developing and selling off the tracts of land that she and her husband, a well-loved dentist in Liberty acquired over the years.

The backyard brick wall before it was cleared of vines.

As we drove back from Minsky’s Pizza today, I said to my husband, “How I wish I had known, in the darkest moments of my life, that this future was waiting for me. Just a hint, just a small reminder that the best was yet to come.”

It isn’t a walk in the park. It isn’t easy. A week ago today I was reeling from inordinate amounts of stress and very little sleep. I have a very tall mountain of work in front of me. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be stress-free.

But it is worth it. And I have to say, I am grateful for the life I live and the home and family that I have. I have so much to smile about each day.

We learned on Saturday that our neighbors (the ones who rehabbed and sold us the house we live in) had bought the white house directly to the east of Cottage East. They approached us about removing the chain link fence which borders the vacant lot and Cottage East.

The latest schematic for Cottage East – 3 bedrooms upstairs, a dining room with a roomy storage closet, an upstairs bathroom with dressing room/lounge area, and more!

I was reticent at first, “If we remove the fence and the brush, we will have a rather clear view of the decrepit white house,” I objected.

He smiled, “Don’t worry, it won’t look like that for long.”

And with that, I was over the moon. We are really looking forward to working with them in a few months to remove the brush and chain link and see what they do with that great old house. It is in desperate need of a facelift, but it is well worth the effort.

As Dave said, “Babe, in a few years, this block is going to look absolutely amazing!”

And I for one could not be happier. I’m excited to be saving so many houses from continuing disrepair and neglect. We are making this block something to be proud of!

Beneath a thick layer of paint in the back bedroom, we found this floral wallpaper. I would love to reproduce this, perhaps using stencils. It’s so delicate and feminine!

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