Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pressure & Time

One of my favorite moments in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" is when Morgan Freeman's character, Red, uses the definition of geology--"the study of pressure and time"--as a metaphor for Andy Dufrene's story arc.

And now I have one thing to say to Morgan Freeman. Actually, no; two. The first is, it's never appropriate to marry your granddaughter. The second is, your definition of geology applies not only to our fictional protagonist but also to the pressure washing I unleashed on our front walk this evening. I thought of you the entire time I was out there, Morgan.

Well, you and Woody Allen.

If you have never experienced a good pressure wash, I highly recommend borrowing a machine. That will give you the taste for it. And then, like me, you'll find yourself in your local do-it-yourself center, plunking down $159.99 for the pressure washer of your dreams.

There is an almost sickening degree of primordial satisfaction that comes from harnessing all that H2O energy to remove layers of compacted filth littering the surface. It's addictive! I can't believe pressure washing hasn't caught on as America's favorite pastime.

This evening, for example, I intended to clean the slate that welcomes visitors to our property from the public sidewalk. I could not contain my pressure washing enthusiasm and made it up to the first brick step. I was a possessed pressure-washing maniac! I pressure washed as our neighbors returned home from work. I pressure washed as the senior citizen brigade strolled around the block. I pressure washed into the dusk. I didn't make eye contact with anyone. I'm sure they waved. I ignored. I was a woman on a mission. And how could I stop myself? Just lo.O.k at the difference.


I have a long way to go to achieve total pressure washing success...


...but just like Andy Dufrene's redemption, "That's all it takes, really, pressure and time." Instead of a big damn poster to help me out, I've got this:


P.S.--If you are confused by this post, you have not seen "The Shawshank Redemption." Do yourself a favor and Netflix it RIGHT.NOW. Totally disturbing but also totally great.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Collaborative Effort

This weekend, BG and I took a few days off from all the yard destruction to celebrate one of the best projects we've worked on together. Our babyest baby of them all, Lil C, turned one. Everyone thought we were crazy to host a party only a couple weekends after moving in, but we couldn't help ourselves. We feted her with a spring chick eggstravaganza.



^Thanks, Martha, for the ideas!

The party went smoothly, except for the nightmarish moment when I dared to put Lil C into her high chair for cake. She started shrieking like a baby monkey being pulled from the trees of the jungle on to the circus train. There's no audio to share, so you'll just have to take my word for it. In the end, she came around and showed that cake a good time:

That apple sure didn't fall far from the tree. Baby has a sweet tooth. Or six.

The party concluded with an egg hunt in the front yard. As far as we know, our miniature guests brought home lots of candy and no poison ivy. Success!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reciprocity killed the cat, or whatever

More yard work for us this evening. The front yard looks more intentional and less like a jungle, which means my vision for our landscape is taking shape. Pics to come--once I have the strength to pick up our camera. Right now it's taking all my energy not to type words all mushy lkei zhis.

While we were out, our neighbor, Mr. Retired Guy With A Shocking Arsenal Of Tools, complimented our efforts. He also said, "If you'd like to borrow my reciprocal saw, it's yours. I need to show you where I hide the key to my workshop so you kids can borrow what you need, whenever you need it." Completely adorable. He's basically my favorite person right now. Also--see example of said tool here.

A borrowed reciprocal saw is in our future. Mr. Retired Guy thinks it'll do the job better than the chainsaw BG and I had planned. He gave a bunch of handy reasons at this point. I didn't understand and now can't remember. I give a little sad face here --> :( <-- if only because I felt all bad ass when I imagined myself handling a chainsaw, and what girl doesn't enjoy that sort of turbo boost to her ego? I'm sure I'll get over it. Plus, reciprocal is a cool word, so there's that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poison ivy is a jerk

When we bought our first house, it did not have a single bit of vegetation planted in the ground (except grass--and I'm not entirely sure that wasn't just a giant bed of weeds, to be honest). I thought, "Great! We can do it the way we want it."


I learned very quickly that I have a black thumb. We all have our talents, right? One of mine is killing cacti, rosemary, and other plants people swear are "hearty." Pshaw.

Now at New House, BG and I are going to have to learn how to make our thumbs green. We have inherited a giant lawn full of flowering junk. And fruiting junk. And some plain old junk-junk. I live in fear of our yard, but there's no time like the present for a little aversion therapy.

This weekend, we tore into the gnarled web of poison ivy that was practically choking the life out of our mature crepe myrtles and red bud tree. The nerve of that invasive parasite, with its loopy nooses and winding knots around my lovely trees and threatening my defenseless children with its toxic foliage. I decided to show it who's boss.

The poison ivy we were dealing with wasn't little wispy strands that I could daintily pluck with gloved hands. This poison ivy was created by the makers of Jumanji. See?


I met my opponent with this hat and these hedge trimmers. And then I went straight-up medieval ninja jedi warrior all over that poison ivy's ass.

And here's where my story gets a little sad...

There was a beautiful mature azalea bush between two crepe myrtles in the side yard, but it was aiding and abetting the enemy.


According to my grandma--the voodoo mistress of all gardening knowledge--you have to get poison ivy at the root, or it will just come back to haunt you. The azalea bush had to go. It put up a fight, what, with its large woody branches. I think I even heard a little scream now and again--and possibly sobs. I explained that if it's not with us it's against us, and I used the word "strategery" a lot to explain why I was going after it. I also shouted, "I pity the fool who wraps itself around my trees!" because I get a little crazy and really into character when I'm wearing head-to-toe poison ivy PPE in 98% humidity in Louisiana.

I wielded my power trimmers with the confidence of an expert even though I didn't have a clue in heck what I was doing. That's the beauty of the American way--you don't have to KNOW, you just have to DO. I was dangerously close to losing life and limb at some points, I'm sure, but luckily the only casualties were the two extension cords BG and I severed. He and his dad were handy enough to splice them back together, and the extermination continued.

My two oldest children watched from the back door with fear in their eyes. "What are you doin' out there, Mama?" they asked repetitively in concerned little voices. "I'm LIBERATING our TREES, children!" I reassured them.
They want FREEDOM, even if they can't say so themselves!" The baby napped peacefully while I removed the toxins from her environment. And the two-year-old was just peeved that my work crimped his plans for the rad little bike path he created.

Today I can barely walk... or move. And the task is not yet complete to my satisfaction, if you can believe it based on this pic of the debris field.


Those trimmers were awesome but couldn't get to the quick of some of the root systems. On my list of things to buy this week:


Hey, poison ivy, I'm coming back for you. And azalea bush, if you get in my way, don't say I didn't warn you.

My Mama told me...

When my husband, BG, and I were looking for a new home, my mom and grandma had the same advice. It was like an echo, really, which I heard for the entire five months our house was on the market and we were maniacally viewing properties for the "just in case" scenario that *today*, we'd have an offer: PLEASE DO NOT BUY A PROJECT.

They were right to worry. We are two middle(ish)-class 30-somethings with four kids under the age of six. We don't have time to take vacations much less take on projects. Our day begins at about 2AM when the baby wakes up for her night feeding and ends at about 11PM when she goes down for her nap bed. There just isn't a lot of extra time in our lives.

We set out with the best intentions, truly. We told our real estate agent that we would like a large home (to house those four kiddos I mentioned) and would be willing to do minor cosmetic work--paint a wall or two. The problem was that every house in our price range looked like a war-zone, and every house beyond our price range still needed more than a quick coat of lipstick. We continued looking and willed the perfect house to come on to the market. After all, we didn't have a contract on our house, so what's the rush?

Then on January 4 at 9PM, a knock on the door.

Stranger: "Hi. I'm sorry to bother you. You probably think I'm crazy."
Me (to self): "That's what crazy people say."
Stranger: "I drive by your house all the time..."
Me (to self): "This is another sign of the crazy."
Stranger: "My Realtor is lazy and won't show me this house, but I know it's meant to be mine. Could I come in?"
Me: "Hoooooon-eeeeeey..." *sends psychic signal through the universe for BG to pick up his undies and towels off the bathroom floor*

And so it happened. Someone knocked on our door and saw the house and wanted it, for really really real. She was fine with a long settlement period to give us time to find something habitable, and so we continued viewing houses online and sometimes even in person. Our agent was really keyed into what we wanted versus what we were seeing. So when we drove up to this one, even though the street view was a bit terrifying, we were pleased to hear him say: "Now THIS is a [G Family] house!"

And so it was. In spite of our desire to limit our efforts to minor fixes, we fell in love. Hard. And big.

On April 2, we moved into a charming 3700 square foot windowless monstrosity... with a ballroom.


You know the adage "Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood?" Well Mama didn't raise no fool, and that is exactly what we did. See, Mom, I was listening, even though I didn't follow all your advice. The house has a pretty cool history, which I'll share in future posts. For now, I need to update you all on our very first project. Our first of about a zillion. I hope you enjoy reading along while BG and I attempt to stretch time and space in order to accomplish all that needs doing.