Thursday, November 10, 2011

It is Finished! or, Is it Finished?

Seeing the first snowflakes fall this morning, brought back memories of last winter's cold season made even colder by the lack of siding on our house.

If you haven't heard, while Mark and I were off on our 5th anniversary Hawaiian dream vacation, the final work on the exterior of our house was being done...or so we thought. Before I get to that, here's a look at how far we've come in these 2.5 years:

The house when we bought it, complete with two, yes two, front doors not 20 feet apart.
After rectifying the front doors issue (which enabled us to expand our kitchen)
You can just make out the new blue roof, replaced thanks to hail damage. Additionally, the cinderblock is painted to match our siding. This photo was taken by my mom and sent to us while we were in Hawaii. If you look closely, you'll notice that the trim around the garage is brown. Replacing this with white trim was the finishing piece that we were waiting on...(do you hear the ominous music??)
Instead of replacing the brown trim around the garage door, the crew thought they were replacing the siding on our house - not that I didn't think it needed it, but it wasn't certainly wasn't in our budget! We got a call from the contractor while we were in Hawaii, informing us that 3/4 of our home was siding-less and as a result of their (huge!) error, we would be receiving all new siding...for free! (cue angelic choirs!)

The downside to this was that it was by now too cold to install siding - thank you MN winter - and we spent the coldest months of the year learning exactly how much protection/insulation siding provides. ...and I'm sure baffling our neighbors!

In the end, we were beyond thrilled with the final result. But this also required a repainting of the cinderblock, etc.
Repainting had to wait on the completion of the rear exterior stucco insulating our walkout basement...that's another long story. But, low and behold, just before winter, we finally have a completed exterior. For now. (Cue ominous music battled by angelic choirs. With us, you just never know what's going to happen next!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lawn Vacuuming

Our yard is 1/3 of an acre, with lots of trees. Last year I raked leaves, I mower-mulched leaves, I blew leaves, I carted leaves with the wheelbarrow, and finally I let piles of leaves kill grass when I gave up.

I was determined that this year was going to be different; this year I was going to do nothing! I just didn't have it in me to fight the never-ending leaf battle. I didn't know what would happen to our lawn, or how I might regret it in the Spring, but this year's plan was one word: forfeit.

Enter the Holy Spirit with His divine inspiration.

The parish across the street has a lawn service. When their gigantic tree dropped its leaves (90% of which landed in our front yard) the lawn service drove a giant ride-on leaf vacuum machine across the grass and sucked up that measly 10%. I looked on in envy and thought bitter thoughts as I gazed at the remaining 90% littering my front lawn. (Er, that part wasn't the divine inspiration, in case you were confused).

I tucked that image of the vacuum machine away in the back of my brain, pulling it forward whenever I glanced out the window at the thick carpet of leaves accruing. Despite my "do nothing" stance, I was feeling pulled between certainty of the futility of managing those leaves and guilt regarding my obvious failure as a responsible home owner.

Yesterday, (this is the H.S. part) it dawned on me that we have a bag that attaches to our lawn mower. Could I create my very own lawn vacuum simply by attaching the bag to the mower? This seemed too easy. If I've lived 30 years and not heard of this, it must not be a feasible option. I googled it. I found a website that sells oversize bags to attach to your lawn mower in order to vacuum leaves. That seemed promising. Then I Facebooked it. Apparently it has been done... multiple people! Have I been living in a cave, why have I not heard of this?!

So, last night after Mark headed off to class, I put our lawn mower to the test. I finished the front yard in about 45 minutes. I had to empty the bag pretty frequently, but compared to what I've done in the past, it was a piece of cake. Today was the true test: the backyard (and the huge Maple hasn't dropped it's leaves yet!)

After pass #1. This picture gives a better view of the quantity of leaves:
Halfway done!
Two and half hours after I began. Ta Da! (hours later, I'm still in awe)