Meanwhile, back in the driveway…

It was just a few months shy of two years ago that I posted about our great driveway-pier-garage-floor-and-doors extravaganza.

Now I get to add the next chapter.

We seem to have atoned for enough transgressions and collected enough good karma for “the guy” we’ve been chasing for just a few months shy of two years to come and apply the stucco coating on the pier to match the foundation on the rest of the house.

So, instead of looking at concrete block…


…we get to look at painted stucco. (Sorry, I neglected to get any in-progress photos — sometimes, I’m just too tired to care.)


I’m thrilled with the improvement. So much so, I had to get busy right away and paint the foundation on the house to match.


Well, almost. There weren’t enough hours in the day on Saturday (it took a surprisingly long time to paint over the heavy texture on the foundation — more like “pouncing” the paint as if stenciling than actually swiping the brush back and forth), and Sunday I was on duty at my mom’s…so, the foundation’s not quite finished yet. But it’s a big improvement, finally.

Here in fixer-upperhood, we revel in any victory, no matter how trivial.

Of course, it’s the next chapter (not the last chapter) in our great driveway-pier-garage-floor-and-doors extravaganza because one of the column bases we had specially built is already splitting and has to be replaced. Can’t wait to jack up that porte-cochère roof again and wrestle with the column so we can get the base out and replace it. Oh, and because the pier grew a few inches when it was rebuilt, the stone cap doesn’t fit anymore…someday we’ll get a new piece of stone cut to fill the gap.

And of course, we still have to paint the columns and bases, and the “ceiling” — that’ll be interesting, too. Maybe Mike’ll rig up one of these contraptions again to reach the top. (And notice the ugly concrete block pier — no more!)


But maybe that better wait until we’re sure he has health insurance again.

In the meantime, I’m celebrating stucco — the latest home improvement that makes pulling in the driveway a little more pleasant. (Now if we could just get rid of those dilapidated railing posts on the porch roof and fix the roof once and for all…)


Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.
~ John Archibald Wheeler

DIYers Take a Holiday

“hol·i·day 2 :  a day on which one is exempt from work.”

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Our holidays usually go something like this.

Step 1: Buy big heavy materials — this time, 9 big heavy boards to reframe half the front porch (eventually) and 7 big heavy landscape timbers to finish our leveling project along the driveway. 

I get crabby pretty fast in the lumber section of HD and Lowe’s. I aso have to cross my arms really tight to keep from exploding from the sheer hell of lingering endlessly in the “fasteners” and electrical aisles.

I can’t begin to count the minutes of my life lost to (someone else’s) deliberation over nails, screws, bolts, joist hangers, receptacles, junction boxes, and the like over the past 15 years. 

Sorry, gents, but no female indecision over slides or straps? slacks or capris? Dove or Olay? can hold a candle to the tedium of deciding between 1/4″ screws or 5/16″ screws. Or of examining every blessed 10-foot board in a stack of 50 five feet over your head to find 2 with no twists, no knots, nothing that would hamper a perfect job, ignoring that as soon as you get the wood home, it will twist either before it’s installed or after — it will never be perfect, NEVER BE PERFECT, and you will be forced to listen to how imperfect it is for a long, long time. And you will be asked over and over to just feel how that joist bounces (it bounces because you weigh 200 lbs and you’re jumping on it — STOP JUMPING ON IT) and just look how that stud twists (that stud will be covered up with drywall. NO ONE WILL SEE IT.), and can you believe how much a box of nails costs? (JUST BUY THE DAMN NAILS.)

Step 2: Complete several hours of back-breaking labor (who hates stripping sod? I do! I do!), another trip back to HD for 2 more landscape timbers, 2 trips to the landscape supply place for truckloads of topsoil, and 1 trip to the other landscape supply place for our “favorite” mulch (Smoky Mountain color).

Step 3: Savor the result: a neat and tidy border along the driveway, just aching to be planted with beautiful shrubs and perennials. (Couple more trips to Lowes & Wal-Mart. Few more hours of labor to plant them…eventually.)

Before  — ground slopes to the left           After — landscape timbers let
off the driveway — hard to mow,                us add dirt to level the slope.
hard to exit a car onto, not pretty.            Ready for planting!
Hard to tell, but the driveway drops off to the left. We added timbers so we could build up the soil to be (almost) level with the driveway.    

A few of our plant purchases
awaiting their new home.

Somewhere between Steps 2 and 3, Mike took his life in his hands to replace the porte cochere light (his idea — the original, 83-year-old one worked, so was just fine in my book). It was dark by the time he finished. I passed the time by discovering you can take some nifty shots with the digital camera at night. (You can’t always tell exactly what you’re aiming at, but…the results are pretty.)



All in all, three really productive days exempt from work. I can hardly wait for the 4th of July!

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: – “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade.
                   ~ Rudyard Kipling, “The Glory of the Garden”