Each Step Moves Us Forward

The balancing act continues, dear readers. Each week we balance caring for my dad, the typical house/home stuff, tending to the acre of land we are now responsible for, and tackling the projects that will move forward our renovation projects.

Now That Was Dumb

This past Wednesday I returned home from a cleaning to see that roof supplies were being delivered to Cottage West. However, they were placing everything on the ground of the front yard.

I went up and asked what was going on and the guy said, “Well, the roofer was worried because you had pulled the brick walls off that if we put the material on the roof the house might collapse.”

“Um, those bricks are a facade, the frame is intact.”

The guy shrugged.

“So when is the roofer coming?”

He shrugged again, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

I went inside and called Champion, who we are contracting with for the roof, siding and windows – because I was quite concerned. No matter what neighborhood you live in, delivering construction material without any kind of security in place is not a good idea. And certainly not in our area! I explained to the folks at Champion that I was not going to be held responsible for the theft and that they needed to get someone out here pronto to secure the supplies.

No one ever showed up.

My husband made sure to put the small stuff inside the house, but the tar paper and roofing materials were far too heavy. That night, it appears someone tried to move the tar paper and couldn’t, but the next night? They made sure to take every last bit of tar paper and shingles. The only thing left was a piece of plastic that wrapped around the tar paper!

Everyone over at Champion is rather embarrassed and they promised we would not be held responsible for the loss.

Still, I really was ticked. I don’t want the house becoming a target for additional thefts!

A few hundred neatly stacked bricks behind Cottage East – and only a couple thousand to go!

Just 120 Bricks a Day

Just in case you haven’t already guessed, I’m a goal-oriented person. And while the massive piles of bricks surrounding Cottage East are rather overwhelming, I have come up with a plan that works for me.

On Saturday, I grabbed our wheelbarrow and slid it up to the bricks on the east side of the cottage, as close as I could. I only took the whole bricks, of which there are plenty. I can move about 24 bricks at a time. Keep in mind, these are older bricks, which weight a sight more than new bricks do. Modern bricks weigh in at three pounds, but old bricks are heavier and weigh around five pounds.

So many bricks to go!

This adds up believe me!

I try and move five loads of 24 bricks each, for a total of 120 bricks. If I try to move more than that, I end up being very, very sorry in the hours and day that follow.

So far, I’ve managed to move five loads on Saturday and five on Sunday.

All of the broken brick gets shoved to the sides and I just keep moving the wheelbarrow in – I’ve managed to clear about six feet of the pile on the east side so far!

And then there is the east side of the house. I worked on this today and cleared about four feet in.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of the broken brick, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

This week I plan on moving 120 bricks per day, for at least Monday through Thursday. I think I can get at least half, possibly 2/3 of the brick on the west side of the house moved and stacked that way.

Now that it is nice and clear, it is time for me to plant Althea and mint. I’ve already started with the Althea.

Tree Stumps, Begone!

When we first took possession of Cottage West, we had a bunch of trees growing along the east wall of it. They bent over the roof and were damaging the already “past its prime” roof.

The side of Cottage West in July 2014

We cut them down, but it was one of the first times Dave had used a chainsaw, and the brush was thick, so it seems that some of it grew back.

With the chainsaw, hand snips and lopper we managed to clear the wall.

Althea, also known as Rose of Sharon. It grows easily and self-propagates whether you want it to or not!

I want to plant the entire length with Althea (also known as Rose of Sharon) and mint, I think it will make it far easier to manage if we just have to mow right up to the mint. The Althea will grow in thick and self-propagate, so in a few years, it should be a solid wall of flowering green bushes growing up to about 8-10 feet in height. Mix that with lovely mint at its feet and we will have quite the groundcover in a few years.

It occurred to me as I was planting some of the altheas starts that once the mint takes hold, two awesome things will happen.

This spot under the Cottage West front porch needs a nice screen of Althea and mint.

  1. Ants will avoid invading the house – they detest the smell of mint (as do cockroaches and mice)
  2. The mint could actually act as an early alarm system if anyone were to be walking around outside. The smell of crushed mint can be smelled up to 100 feet away. Back in Belton, Dave mowed mint over 100 feet away from where I was standing, pulling weeds. I was convinced I was somehow standing on mint because it was SO strong!

My very healthy horseradish plant

I keep adding plants and pulling weeds. Eventually it will look better!

Move a Plant Here, Move a Plant There

As the rain fell lightly on Sunday, I took advantage of the moist ground and dug in deep, moving plants from other sections of the yard and trying to work with plant heights to create a more organized garden in the front of Cottage East.

My painted rose is blooming.

Huh, who am I kidding – tall plants, short plants, I just want to fill it with plants!

I also weeded Cottage West and gently pulled about 15 Althea plants out of the ground and relocated them now that the east wall of Cottage West is clear of trees.

Yes, I weighed over 220 and yes, I’m currently working on the “less than 210” goal. Slow but steady wins the race!

Pains and Pounds

I’ve mentioned that I’ve had a ton of body pain in the past few months. Specifically, my lower back muscles and also my right foot has been showing signs of plantar fasciitis.

One of the huge “Here’s your sign” moments from my dad coming to live with me was the reminder that I am pre-diabetic and overweight. Two huge strikes against me.

And eight months after flying to Panama to pick him up, I am reminded daily of a couple big life lessons:

  1. Take care of your body because you only get one – no replacement parts exist
  2. Prepare for the future financially – it is unrealistic to expect your children to care for you when you are old, suffering from dementia, AND also happen to be destitute. Uh uh, that is NOT going to happen if I can help it. Besides, I’ve only got the one to depend on!

So very quickly, the goal of losing a lot of weight was pushed high on my list. I have never been a “dieter” in my life and I have also never been interested in any quick weight loss schemes. So I went about weight loss in this order:

  • Slow down – eat slower
  • Be aware of portions and eat a more balanced meal
  • Slowly decrease portions
  • Exercise as often as I can
  • Make reasonable goals for weight loss (i.e. Set a goal of losing five pounds, achieve that goal for a full 3-4 weeks, then make a new five pound weight goal.

Exercising was a doozy because as soon as my weight loss and exercise became a priority, my body rebelled with massive pain in my back, legs, knees and feet.

At this point I STILL can’t get on the treadmill, but things are improving with regular visits to a chiropractor, deep tissue massage and now my daily stretching exercises. In the past week my pain has gone down and overall in the past three months I have lost around nine pounds.

I still have a long way to go, but those nine pounds are hard-won, let me tell you!

A little spot in my “new” office.

Next Weekend – Moving a Ton of Brush?

I think that next weekend we will rent a truck again and move a ton of brush off the property and possibly one load of paint cans to the paint recycling place nearby.

We have at least 200 cans of paint that we inherited with our purchase of Cottage East in various places – the west side of the house, upstairs in the front room, and stacks and stacks in the basement.

But the brush – aiee! We have a HUGE stack in the backyard of Cottage East, a smaller stack at the end of the alley, and plenty of bigger pieces of wood that we are considering just cutting into smaller pieces and keeping for campfires.

I will probably spend some time this week, cutting down more treelings and adding them to the piles

Furniture is always moving around my house. I inherited the obsessive rearranging gene from my mother. My cool estate sale find – a manual typewriter – sits on a small table in the hall at the top of the stairs and is accompanied by an Eastlake needlepoint chair.

Each Step Moves Us Forward

I’ll admit it, at times it is overwhelming. There is so much to do!

To that end, I’ve suggested to my husband a few changes in how we handle projects.

I’m hoping that 2-3 evenings per week, we can work on little projects – moving stuff up, down or around – installing the security cameras we bought (that sure would have come in handy on Thursday night) or motion detector floodlights – finishing the wiring projects – et cetera.

Waiting until the weekend to tackle ALL OF THIS STUFF is rather overwhelming.

It’s hard. I know we need down time, but we also need to finish some of these projects. If we don’t, then the money is just flowing out, and NOT flowing in.

Luckily, we work together well. Never underestimate the value of hard work and a partner willing to work by your side towards a common goal!

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