Bricks So Many Bricks

The stairs at their proper width (we widened them last year)

Truly Backbreaking Work

My love of bricks began when we moved here over four and a half years ago. A beautiful old brick house needs brick pathways.

And with five lots, I had plenty of room to lay down a few pathways. In the first year, a long-abandoned house down the street burned and I knew the city would be coming in with bulldozers to level the lot. In the back of the house was a brick patio.

We made several trips back and forth with the wheelbarrow and I assembled a small pile of bricks. The next spring, I laid them on top of the concrete path, leading to the steps at the front of our house.

Just a plain little sidewalk back in 2014

And with that small act, I caught the brick bug bad. (Say that ten times fast)

Over the years I have scoured Craig’s List ads for free bricks, worn out the shocks in my van hauling them back, and made quite a few paths (most of which need to be re-done…it’s a learning curve, after all).

The first brick path, laid directly over the cement walkway

My friends and family have made many jokes about it. “We saw a pile of bricks and thought of you, Christine!”

circa 2015

Well, let me tell you, with my most recent purchase, the little wood frame house to our east that sported a crumbling brick facade, I can attest that I have won the brick jackpot.

Along the way, words I never thought I would utter have been spilling out of my mouth…

Early 2016 before we expanded the stairs

“Where are we going to put all of these bricks?”

“I move them until I can’t move and there are still so many of them!”

The brick path to the property line on the east side of Cottage East

“Will we ever be able to get all of these bricks moved?!”

Well, folks, the end is in sight…mostly. Here are the most recent pictures.

The view of the entire east side of Cottage East

As you can see, we have laid down a pathway on one side. It needs a little fixing, but it’s close. And the other side needs a weekend of work and it should be done as well.

The west side of Cottage East. The pathway extends to around the halfway mark.

And this is a good thing, because we have a couple of guys coming in after next weekend to work on removing the windows, framing them out for new ones, fixing some foundation issues, and removing the rotting boards, replacing them with plywood/OSB and wrapping it all with Tyvek.

The front walkway of Cottage East. I guess I need to learn how to shape brick now so I can cut them into triangles and give it a finished look.

Revitalizing My Classes – Just a Handful, Though

I’m going to teach a few classes next year. Right now I have two on the books:

June 7th, 2018 6:30-8:00 p.m. Make Your Own Vinaigrettes and Dressings

October 11th, 2018 6:30-8:00 p.m. Homemade Breads and MYO Butter Spreads

These classes are free to attend and will be held at North Kansas City Public Library but pre-registration is required. Contact NKCPL for details.

There will be one more class, one on DIY Coffee Creamers, set for a Saturday morning in either March or April. I’ll let you know when we have a specific date on that.

That’s a crapload of grass growing in my former/future crop garden.

A Garden Next Year?

The irony that I originally started this blog to talk about my garden and what I was growing in it has not escaped me. For the past two years, I have had little or no garden and even less time to think about gardening.

I hope that will change next year, but I’m not sure. So for now, I’m tentatively planning a garden. Just a very basic one. I would love to grow:

  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Watermelon
  • Pumpkins
  • Swiss Chard

Low key.

A line of bricks here at the front of Cottage East side yard keeps the dirt/mud from coating the sidewalk and making it a slippery mess for passersby. You can see the remnants of the last rain still on the concrete.

Those Airbnb Dreams

We have a LOT of work in front of us for Cottage East. The work to get it safe from the elements is paramount and will be completed before the end of the year.

We won’t be installing siding or new windows until spring, however, but the plywood/OSB and Tyvek wrap should be enough to hold it until then.

I’m busy adding this pathway in our side yard. It connects with another pathway already there. The brick edging will help define the yard from the sidewalk and prevent mud from seeping onto the sidewalk and furthering shallow rooted plant growth onto the actual sidewalk areas.

Cottage West is in a holding pattern for now for a couple of reasons.

#1 – We need to get one project completed fully and completely.

#2 – The neighbor next to it is mentally unbalanced.

#2 doesn’t necessarily interfere with #1 – but once work is done on either cottage we want it making money. And frankly? Having an unbalanced guy living directly next door to a property that has folks coming and going constantly is not going to work.

So we wait. We fix up Cottage East, get it performing on Airbnb and producing income. Use that income to fix up Cottage West, and then possibly do a long-term rental instead. I doubt the neighbor will behave any better, but I have no problem with pushing forward harassment charges and a lawsuit against him if he is behaving poorly. Having one person/family there to provide testimony would certainly be easier to move forward in a court of law.

And considering the neighbor has a laundry list of problems to address with his own home, I can only hope he will focus on them, instead of making trouble with us. Honestly, as it stands the house he is in probably needs to be condemned.

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