My birthday is coming up next week. It will be the very last year of my twenties.
Not gonna lie; I don’t look forward to getting older. Call it vain, shallow, or short-sighted… the feeling is still there. I don’t like looking at photos of myself and wanting to touch them up so I don’t look tired. I realize a lot of it is mind over matter, but I haven’t been able to shake these negative thoughts for the last couple of years. But the other day, I realized that I keep referring to my “old” house – and that it’s only two years older than me! Thankfully, I take better care of my skin than the previous owner took care of the house’s exterior, or I might be showing just as much wear and tear.
Anywho, this isn’t really supposed to be a depressing birthday post. In fact, I just wanted to share with you what I’ve asked from my family for my birthday: manual labor.
Exterior Project #1: Trim
Some parts of DIYing by myself are particularly difficult. Take, for example, finishing the exterior trim. My Dad and a neighborhood friend helped me paint the house just over a year ago, and I’ve been working on the exterior trim ever since. I’m only 5’2″, so moving and adjusting a heavy metal ladder against the house isn’t very easy. I have an awesome extendable ladder (and yes, I still love and use it), but it only stretches to 12 feet and won’t reach the highest points that I need in order to complete the exterior paint job. I have a much longer (and much heavier) ladder that reaches the top of the house, but the houses in my neighborhood are close enough together that if I were to lose control of the ladder (which is likely considering my low center of gravity), it may swing backwards and damage someone else’s house.
Quite frankly, that’s a little more risk than I’m willing to bear just to get to the trim on the second story, so help to finish these areas is at the top of my birthday wishlist. I have no issues with getting on the ladder and taking care of the paint job myself; it’s really just the part where the ladder makes its way onto the house that I’m needing help with.
Exterior project #2: Bricks and phlox
Another item that’s on the list: getting the right side of the house spruced up. Last year I did a considerable hack job to the side of the house in order to get the bushes under control. It was a marked improvement to out-of-control shrubs, but the bare spots that I left over the winter allowed for weeds to take over, which now looks just as scraggly as it did before (if not more so). Looking at the bright side, the weeds are easy to rip out (except for remnants of that hard-to-kill bamboo), and all of the bushes are well-established, so they are sprouting new leaves and look much more under control (you just can see them because of the overwhelming weeds!). I also have plans to replace the areas between the bushes (which used to be completely taken over by overgrown branches) with creeping phlox, which will add a little color to a boring area (spoiler alert: the plants are already purchased, I just ran out of energy after my sneezing fit on Sunday to keep going). What I need help with is digging out and straightening the decorative brick that the previous owner used to separate the lawn from this area. The entire line is pretty wonky and hard to see (you can just barely see the scalloped tops in the photo below), which creates an issue for me when I am mowing the grass.
Sorry, another complaint I have to make about this area: for whatever reason, the garbage men in my neighborhood are sloppy and allow for bits of trash to randomly fall out of their trucks. And somehow, that inevitably leads to these various pieces of trash blowing into this small area. It pisses me off because I know for a fact that it isn’t my trash that is blowing into my yard. These are containers and brands that I don’t use, so it’s neighborhood stuff and I get stuck cleaning it up. Part of me wants to clean up this area and make it look nice so that it doesn’t look like an acceptable dumping ground. I don’t plan on making a complaint about this to the trash company just yet, but I’m hoping that the less my yard looks like I don’t bother, the less others will think the same and pick up the mess if they see it flying into my yard. End of rant.
Exterior project #3: Backyard fence
The time has come to finally get this back yard in shape, and it starts with a fence. A wooden fence. You can see from the photo that I already have a metal one on this side of the house, but it’s ugly. Plus, when Charlie hangs out back here, she can see people walking along the street in front of the house, which drives her crazy. She then barks, which then drives me crazy.
My sister and her husband installed a wooden fence in their back yard last year and had a surplus of materials left over. My Dad helped them install it, piled the leftovers into his truck, and promptly dumped them into a pile in my back yard last fall when I was in class. And to this day, this is where they sit:
While I am very happy about the free fencing supplies (yippee!), the pile is currently visible from the street. So my last and final request for my birthday is to get some help on putting these supplies to good use. I would prefer to be around to learn the entire process during install, but a majority of my weekends this summer will be spent in school. From a practical standpoint, I’d much rather come home to see it done rather than wait for a weekend where I can be around to snap pictures as we go.
There you have it; three items I’ve identified as projects where I could really use a second (or third) set of hands to finish. My birthday is a good excuse to get things started, but these projects will still take several weekends to finish. Are you laughing at the sloppy state of my house yet? I guess the truth is that in DIY, each decision I make inevitably means that I’m choosing not to work on something else that could really use it. And that’s sometimes how it goes when you do a lot of “do-it-yourself” projects too; they aren’t always just by yourself. I suppose if I were stubborn enough to insist on only doing it solo, I could. But since I’ve been looking at a scraggly yard for three years and am still working on the interior, I’ve decided that taking a shortcut and getting a little help here will go a long way for my sanity.
That’s also not to say that I don’t plan on working on each area alone where possible. There are still several things I can do on my own until help arrives, and doing the prep work beforehand will make their assistance stretch even farther. Stay tuned for a few of those posts (some of it’s already in progress as I type this). Got any big projects of your own that need a few helping hands? Do you rely on family to get them done, or do you hire help?