Snapshots from Eldredge

The life and writings of TJ Alexian


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From drab to fab (Part Two)

drab one

With a week’s vacation ahead of us and the power washing and weeding out of the way, Corb was determined to finish up the patio project with the time we had. His fertile little brain was awash with ideas: from citronella candles to keep the bugs away made out of wine bottles, to a chiminea that can keep us warm (and keep the bug away) on cold fall evenings, to a decent deck set that could add a little color to the space.

And he was frugal, too. The umbrella we secured for free, because his mom had purchased one she didn’t like and dumped it on us about a month ago. We exchanged it and the manager actually allowed us to buy a larger model, so we ended up with a better deal. The chiminea was found on Craigslist for $45, normally a $300 buy. Okay, it kind of looks like a big fiery penis pot, but I think that adds to the charm…although it annoys Corb to no end whenever I refer to it as a “big fiery penis pot.”

The tables and chairs were the biggest pains in the butt. We picked them up at Lowe’s for $500, but at the first store we went, in Attleboro, it took us forever to get someone’s attention. When we did, the lady informed us that they were out of stock and we should buy them off their web site. Didn’t offer to help, just said to go home and order. Wouldn’t she want to help us order and make a sale for the store? Apparently not.

So, we went online that night and ordered. The site said they had one available in Stoughton and that delivery would be free. We purchased it, but the next day we received a call from the store. Turns out only the chairs were available, but they were willing to give us the display model if we wanted to drive down and pick it up, fully assembled. Only problem: we don’t have a truck.

After a bit of bitching and moaning, they were nice and told us we could drive down and use the Hertz truck offered at the store. So, we made the 25 mile hike to Lowe’s at Stoughton to do that. When we arrived there, the employees were really nice (even let us bring Kyra into the store), but the process to rent a truck was awful.

It’s all automated. It sounds simple and modern and elegant: you stand at a kiosk and speak with a dispatcher by webcam and that person rents you the truck. In reality? We waited thirty minutes to speak to a lady who looked as if she was half asleep most of the time. It took her half an hour to put the order through. Meanwhile, we have two guys holding our lawn stuff waiting around next to us. Then, after we get the truck? Corb goes to the truck, tries to start it up, and is told “DENIED.”

Why? Half an hour goes by for us to figure that out. Turns out the store truck is not hooked up to the Hertz satellite, for some reason. We are told we have two options: drive to pick up another truck at another store or cancel the request.

Well, we were a little upset. What had started as a somewhat nice gesture had turned out to be a total waste of three hours.

The manager of the store did come through. Knocked off $50 and promised us the furniture would be delivered the next day. Which it did, in the afternoon. So, by Monday at three, we were hanging out on our patio. Although there are a few more finishing touches to be completed, I think it all looks pretty darn terrific, don’t you think?


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From drab to fab (Part One)

 

One of the things we had committed to this summer (and especially, during our week-long vacation coming in July) was to refurbish certain sections of Green Victoria that needed a little bit of care and attention. I’ve mentioned on many occasions that the guys who owned the place before us did an amazing job of making this place really special, but of course, there are still sections that need a little bit of fixing up.

The back yard needs the most improvement. Corb, who is the master builder, has a lot of ideas for what he wants to do–and some of it is going to take a few years. For one thing, he wants to grade the entire area so that it slopes downward (and doesn’t become a swamp during the start of spring). He also wants to extend the back deck so that we can install a swimming pool and fire pit. And around the swing area, we need to remove an old dead tree that is what is popularly known as a “widow maker.” It has a huge dead branch that extends over the swing set. If that ever feel while Kaeden was playing on it…

But, first for the easier stuff, and that’s why, this week-end, we started on the patio area. It was clearly once really nice–in fact, at one point, the guys had installed a jacuzzi, but while the house was up for sale, the area had fallen into disuse. The stones were covered in moss, and the garden beds had become overgrown with weeds. This week-end, Corb fixed up a power washer that his brother had that was broken (Corb is a handy one, no?) and Sunday morning, bright and early, we got to work.

I did my fair share, but again, I have to give Corb credit for the grunt work. He spent six hours power washing all the stones. It was like watching an archaeological dig, as he used the washer to line by line remove moss and dirt from each stone individually. The whole project (which isn’t completely done yet) went quite smoothly, except for one little rough patch, as we were weeding the flower beds and came across one bit of suspicious wickedness. Hence the following exchange:

CORB: Is it poison ivy?
ME (Still weeding): I don’t know…
CORB: It looks like poison ivy. Three leaves…
ME: Then we should get rid of it.
CORB: So get rid of it.
ME: I don’t want to get rid of it. You get rid of it.
CORB: Does it look shiny? Poison ivy is shiny. Is that shiny?
ME: Deep sigh…

Anyway, turns out it was climbing hydrangea. It is now dead climbing hydrangea. We didn’t figure that out until we had removed it with a steel rake.

Other than that, I am pleased with our progress. We still have some planting to do and have to pick out patio furniture, but I think part one of the “Drab to Fab” project turned out pretty nice!