I had never spent time in the South before moving here and wasn’t really sure if I was going to like it to be honest. On paper things made sense, but was I the front porch- sitting, sweet tea drinking type of girl? Turns out, um, yes I am. If you think sweet tea is gross, you probably haven’t had the good stuff. And sitting on a front porch watching a summer thunderstorm is better than any show on Netflix (ok, maybe not as good as “Dead to Me” which is…strangely addicting, but you get my point.) So I pressure-washed the porch which took twice as long as expected, mostly because I discovered that wasps have been living under the front porch shutters for, most likely, decades. As I was blasting their homes into oblivion, pieces of their nests were showering all over me. Good stuff. Once the porch was clean, we were able to set up our rocking chairs and it’s official: we live in the South now.
The last few weeks have been packed with family life. Kindergarten started for our oldest, homeschool preschool has been launched for our second, and our third celebrated her first birthday. While a lot has been going on here at the house in the midst of the school year’s start, most of our reno work has been pretty mundane and unexciting lately, to be perfectly honest. Things like changing most of the pipes from 1/2” to 3/4”, cleaning out the crawlspace and adding support beams, installing a pressure pump, repairing leaks in the cinderblock in the garage, cleaning up flooding from those leaks, taking loads to the dump, and removing ancient broken exterior lighting and capping and burying the lines. None of it is exactly page-turner material if you get the drift. In fact, the past two weeks I have felt like we have barely moved any needles forward when it comes to visible progress on the house, which is frustrating for me. So it was felt like a gift from heaven when on this Sunday morning, while drinking coffee on the porch with the girls, a neighbor I hadn’t yet met called out from the road. He wanted to welcome us and let me know that he loved what we had done to the place so far, saying it looked “200x better already”. Seriously this might be the nicest compliment I’ve received in 2020. I can go quite a while these days without talking to an adult human anyways (besides Ronny), and then to have them say something that nice…even if it is a complete exaggeration, I’ll gladly take it. Let’s just say I have now decided maybe it’s not all in vain, and I won’t give up on this dump just yet. So here’s a little update for you on a few things that have been going on around here.
Jungle Clearing: At the back of our property there is a green barrier that makes our yard super private. But it’s not exactly the blessing it may appear to be. It’s really a rusty chain link fence covered in jungle comprised of a bunch of different plants, but including poison ivy and kudzu. If you don’t know what kudzu is, it’s this nearly indestructible weed which has overtaken parts of the south. It grows at an insane pace and will crawl up and over anything. I will seriously look out my window and realize that it grew 5 feet since I glanced last.
Ronny cleared the majority of the vines, which was no joke. His machete-wielding enthusiasm dimmed quickly and it took the majority of our weekend. He did get some poison ivy and so he now dresses like a mummy when he heads out to the rainforest. Then we relocated many wheelbarrows of dirt which covered the court.
We are still clearing the brush and debris and then we can pressure-wash this space and get our tennis on! HAHA….if you know me at all you know that I am seriously ball-sport challenged. If you ever toss a ball at me, my lack of athleticism becomes painfully obvious. So it’s quite ironic that half of our backyard would be covered with a dilapidated tennis court. Maybe we will pull the whole thing out someday, but for now we are kind of seeing it as a “when life gives you lemons” situation. We plan to put a basketball hoop up, maybe a tennis net, or possibly just toss the kids some big wheels (do they still make those??)
Cleaning the Fireplace: The million dollar question is what exactly the brick insignia/design is above the fire…? I think it must be some fraternity symbol as the original owner was a university professor, but we really have no clue. It’s welded on there quite well and I think that taking it down would result in jacking up the entire brick so for now it stays. We have been enjoying some weekend s’more roasts out there.
Tree Chopping: We have been debating the giant bush trees around the pool for a while and have decided to start removing them. I’m always hesitant to chop down old growth green which provides shade, but after much debate, they’re coming down. The frogs live in them, they block the afternoon sun for the pool, they drop a lot of debris into the pool, and… they are ugly! It will look bare back there but the sooner we get them out, the sooner we can get some trees in which we actually like.
Garage Ceiling Painting: We are working on turning the garage space back into a garage. Or I should say we are creating a garage since I do not believe it actually ever was a garage. It was built out into some very odd dungeon-ish rooms down there and there was a lot of water damage and rot. After a ton of demo, replacing some supports, and cleaning, we are almost to a functional garage. I spent several hours cleaning the ceiling with a shop vac and although I suffer from arachnophobia, I did surprisingly well.
I had never used a paint sprayer on a ceiling before and well that is a hoot. I usually really enjoy painting but not this time. I’ll share my two lessons which will make all the difference for you if you ever need to spray an open wood-beam ceiling. 1. Use primer. Yes, we are idiots. In our defense we only had one kind of primer on hand that was too thick for the paint sprayer and, well, we were in a hurry. This old wood drank up 4.5 gallons of good paint which I had planned to use upstairs. Tragedy. Lesson learned. 2. Wear goggles. I wore a tight hood sleeve thing on my head and painting glasses, but I should have worn goggles. The spray dust rained down on me the whole time and I was coated at the end. Somehow some paint got into one of my eyes, and then became irritated and I spent the next 4 solid days wondering if I should venture out to the optometrist. Thankfully it healed and I have my eyesight still (I’m not a hypochondriac at all).
And the last thing that has happened recently…my little rose garden is exploding!