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2004
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April, 2004
 
 

Noon EST — April 6, 2004
Take a look at our house from space! Thanks to TerraServer.com, you can see aerial photos of our house from the year 2000. We're the red dot. This view gives you a really good idea of what kind of things are near you that you might not have known about — for instance, I had no idea there were so many ball fields nearby... Dad must be proud ;)

Aerial Photo from 2000
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

You can see also see a closer shot of our neighborhood in black & white from around 1990, as well as a topographical shot from around the same time. Gotta love satellite technology!

 
1:44 p.m. — April 7, 2004
So our latest project, as we're STILL waiting to get the finished drawings back (it's amazing how much we've delayed this process each time we've changed that "one last thing!"), has been removing the three large trees that have been laying across our backyard for about a month now. Opa and his team of handy lumberjacks (Oma, Ryan, me, Dad, and Jay) came over one beautiful March morning and helped us take down some of the dead and overgrown trees from our property. Luckily, with some clever cutting and rope-pulling, we were able to get all three trees to fall in the same place. No downed fences, wires, or vehicles!

Here's how it looked that night...


Check out the size of the stepping stones on the left, leading around the house to the basement, for an idea of just how big this mess of trees actually was.

Both Dad and Opa took home a truck and trailer load of lumber, respectively, but that didn't seem to put a dent in the massive wilderness now consuming the space behind our house — we didn't realize just how huge these three trees were until they were sprawled across our little ~50x70 backyard. So every weekend since then, Ryan and I have been clearing the jungle. After many trailer-loads of wood to Opa's house...

...we now only have stacks of branches ("dwarf" apple and pine) left to clear from the yard.

The next big yard project to tackle is removing the three stumps left from the felled trees, as well as removing or grinding out the rotten stump left next to the house from the previous owners, which is the source of our extensive termite damage and the crack in the foundation.


(Who would have guessed this was a bad spot for a pine tree...?)

 
3:48 p.m. — April 16, 2004
WE HAVE OUR PLANS! WE HAVE OUR PLANS!
Yes, the day finally came when Rob dropped off our complete, town- and builder-ready final blueprints. And let me tell you...they are SWEET. I guess all the last minute changes we made were worth the wait. So the next step is to sumbit the plans to contractors for bids and see whether or not the garage and spare room above it put us over budget. We'll let you know how it goes.

 
4:01 p.m. — April 19, 2004
Last week, Opa and Stanley (my first cousin, once removed...or something) came over to grind out the stumps left over from our tree-felling party last month. Turns out the first day of dry weather in a whole week *may* have not been the best day to drive a pickup truck around our yard. Needless to say, it took a neighbor, another pickup truck, a tow strap, and many many cleverly-placed pine branches (I knew we were saving them for something!) to get the pickup truck out of the backyard. The grinder, however, is still sitting back there, next to the deep ruts left by the pickup tires.

Alas, our efforts at growing grass in the backyard have been foiled again!

They are planning on finishing up today, since the weather has been so beautiful (and not wet) lately. Hopefully, they will also be able to successfully grind out the stump by the side of the house without further disturbing the crack it caused in the foundation.

More pictures of our more recent accomplishments to come...I am good at the writing part and the taking-pictures part, but not so good at the downloading-the-pictures-off-the-camera part.

 
10:53 a.m. — April 20, 2004
All I thought about at work yesterday was painting the fence when I got home. Well, priming it, to be exact. The weather was so beautiful it would be a crime if I didn't spend the evening outside! So before our backyard barbeque with Lori and Jay — the first of the season and the first ever at our new house — I managed to sneak in some fence scraping and priming time.

Here you can see the long expanse of fence there actually is to paint, and the amount of fence I painted this weekend. Last night, I managed to get another 7-8 verticals painted before the bbq, but what a difference some primer can make!

This weekend was beautiful. And it was the first weekend in quite a while that Ryan didn't go at the stump. Here is how the stump looked a few weeks after we moved in.

Here is Ryan going at the stump the weekend before last...what a hunk.


By the time Ryan and Seth (thanks for the help!) finished working on the stump that evening — seriously, they worked until dark — the stump looked like this...

So they seperated a large portion of the stump from its roots (which run under our neighbors driveway and around the corner of our house) and got a lot accomplished, but by the end of the day, they realized that they still had a long way to go. This wasn't going as quickly as planned.

But fortunately, Opa and Stanley, when they came this past week to grind out the stumps in our backyard, told us that they would be able to grind out this troublesome stump without further disturbing the foundation of the house. So when I got home from work last night and went around to the side of the houe — ta DA! NO STUMP!

The smell of fresh mulch and victory lingered in the air...how sweet a smell! We examined the foundation in the basement and there was absolutely no more damage than had been there before. Opa and Stanley, you and your stump grinder are our HEROES!

Another project I tackled last weekend, while Ryan and Seth were hacking away, was pansy planting. I had already potted some pansies in my beautiful blue-glazed Ikea pot on the front stoop...

...and finally decided what I would do with the rest of the flat. I had found random curved edging pieces in the yard, and put them all together around one of the pine trees in our front yard. Here are the tools I used and how the space looked after I edged the tree and filled it with dirt.

And after much procrastination, many water breaks, and a few naps later...

Ta-DA. Mission accomplished. Too bad we can't have one straight tree on our property. One nice thing about working outside on beautiful days is that we can keep the kitchen door open and Kitty can watch our progress.

Kitty
(Click for a close-up...trust me, it's worth it.)

It is very exciting to see the vegetation springing up on our property that we never knew existed, having moved in in the fall. We were pleasantly surprised by a few crocus springing up under our front pine tree in the very beginning of spring. Now, grape hyacinths are sprouting up in their place. The bulbs that I planted last fall are finally showing some progress...

It's hard to tell from the picture, but there are two rows of bulbs: tulips in front of daffodils. To the immediate right of the stoop, you can see the first daffodil blooming, and within the last few days, the rest of the daffodils have bloomed. But I am still waiting for the tulips to show their colors.

In the backyard, things are really shaping up. This little plant is waiting to bloom next to the bilko doors...

...though I am not sure what the blooms will look like. (I'm not so good at identifying plants...any suggestions??) The yellow forsythia on the right is taking over the fences on both sides of our backyard. I'm not a huge fan of unkept forsythia...a little too messy for me. I am quite enjoying the little violets all over the yard.

Here are some nice "After" photos of the backyard after clearing the wilderness of felled trees and branches.

OK, so we still have some branches to clear, but this is a VAST improvement.

One other project Ryan tackled was trying to remove the huge block of concrete at the end of our driveway, so Opa could get the stump grinder into the backyard.

He wasn't able to get much farther than this, however, without realizing he would need something a little more damaging...like a jackhammer. Leave it to Ryan to think of another excuse to use power tools =)

And just so you don't think that we're all work and no play, here are some pictures from our weekend mountain hike with Lori and Jay.

We could see the Empire State Building from here, and could probably have seen the whole NYC skyline on a clear day. Any town that has NYC views is A.O.K in my book.

 

Enough playing for one weekend!

 
4:36 p.m. — April 21, 2004
I realized I had yet to post anything even closely resembling what we hope our new house will look like. So, to refresh your memory, here is what our house looks like now...

...and here is how we hope our house will look when we are done...

So it's obvious I am not the world's best sketch artist, but hopefully you get the idea.

 
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