Up To Our Elbows

I like that saying, “up to our elbows [in] [insert random task or item in quantity]”.  I have an image of people with rolled-up sleeves, grinning maniacally while about to tackle something outrageously complex, difficult, and/or tedious.  It’s not a bad image but it does imply that there are Big Things Happening (and that the people doing them are pretty much nutso.)

We sort of have Big Things Happening around here (and are up to our elbows in them).  DH has found a lovely contractor (is that even possible?) who is going to replace the retaining wall along the steps that go to our basement door.

Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the “before” wall.  Suffice it to say that it was a grey block wall, slightly bowing out in some places and slightly sagging in others, which was both unattractive and unpleasant, and probably even a little bit dangerous.  The contractor is going to re-set the wall and put in new block with a lightly less “death-warmed-over” tone.

Here is where the wall once stood.  (There’s another wall on the opposite side of the steps which is also being replaced, but you don’t quite get the full effect if I shoot the photo down the steps.)

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The remains of the old walls:

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The project site:

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A random onlooker:

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Bob [PLEASE STOP ME BEFORE I TYPE “THE BUILDER”] should be here this morning with new block in the “desert sands” colorway. It will not necessarily match our pinky-grey house, but it should look nicer than death-warmed-over grey, and definitely better than white or red (the other choices). When in doubt, go with the beige, my Realtor mother would probably say.

Meanwhile, I am pleased as punch that the transplants I have randomly scattered painstakingly placed about the yard seem to appreciate their new homes.

Last week, I moved these two large Zebra Grasses from the front yard to the back. I put them alongside the bridge that leads off the bottom of the deck to the yard, near the kids’ playset. I think they soften the bridge and look lovely. Happily, it has been a week and they are not dead!

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Even more amazing is this Lamb’s Ear. It was a cutting given to me by a friend a month ago. A month! And still alive! That’s got to be a record around here.

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I also found these two Coral Bells plants at the grocery store. They were 50 cents apiece; who can pass up plants for 50 cents? Not I. They’ve been in the ground for a few days now and- fingers crossed- are still yellow. That’s good. These ones are supposed to be a chartreuse-y yellow-green.  I have several plants this color in the yarden, but these ones are supposed to look like that.

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In the wings is one other large-ish project, namely putting some steps off the back of our deck.  We do have some steps leading off the deck, but they lead towards the south end of the yard.  Our firepit is on the east end of the yard.  We would like people to be pointed in the proper heading when they leave the deck so they end up at the firepit and not, say, at the neighbors’.  Or in Virginia.  (The real reason, of course, is that we are lazy and want to waddle down off the deck and directly to the fire pit, without having to slog through grass and without having to take 100 extra steps to get there.  Because it’s SO FAR AWAY.) Here. I will illustrate with clever photos and schematics.

Our firepit, awash with heavenly morning light:

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Now, here is a view from the deck. As you look off the deck towards said heavenly fire pit, the current set of steps lead way off to the right, AWAY FROM said fire pit. And they’re dark. And one has an extra deep tread, so they become treacherous, especially when one is carrying marshmallows and a pointy stick for toasting them on. You can see that this is not a good plan. A much better plan is to have steps go directly toward the firepit, with proper lighting and a railing. (If you’re going to dream, dream big.)

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Here is the current view of that part of the deck from the yard. As you can see, we are not going to lose any valuable landscaping with this project.

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This next drawing/photo will give you an idea of what the steps will look like. Of course, in reality they will look a lot less like an inflatable emergency airplane slide and a lot more like real steps. They’ll be wood and stained to match the deck, instead of baby-poop brownish yellow. I’m working with limited resources (and ability) here, so just go with it.

steps

However, before we tackle the steps, we must first replace the air conditioning unit.  Our outside condenser unit has been damaged by a marauding band of pirate mice, who chew up wiring insulation and trade it at the salvage yard for cheese.  There are so many tasteless jokes to make with that metaphor that I’m going to just drop it right now.  Suffice it to say, our home’s air is not very cool at the moment.  And that sucks, because it has been in the upper 80s F all week and yesterday was incredibly humid to boot, so while I very much want steps with the proper heading, I am a selfish human who lives in the moment and at this moment would rather be cool than walking down nice steps.  Because, you see, I can just not go down the steps for now, but I can’t just not be sweltery hot.  Not now.  Unless I go into the basement, of course.  But then I would just hide there and not come up til September, and that would not be very productive.  And I so want to be productive (*snort*).

 

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