Tomorrow, we are having our patio of paving blocks extended and an old dilapidated shed removed from the back yard. Most days, I love townhouse living with its easy maintenance, low utility bills with only two exposed walls to leak air-conditioning or heat, and the compact and convenient living space. BUT whenever we have yard work done, all the tools and materials need to be tracked through our rather narrow hallway and through the living room ... furniture has to be moved to the edges of the room, rugs need to be covered and protected, laborers need to be cautioned politely to clean their boots and not to mark the freshly painted walls [what's Spanish for "Please be careful" ?] To make matters worse, the weather promises to be brutal ... I'll be providing these guys with a constant stream of water and juice ... and worrying about them dehydrating or having heatstroke. I think I'd better run out for some Gatorade as well. I know these guys come from a country where this sort of weather is the norm but I can't help projecting my Northeastern USA discomfort onto them. The next steps in the master plan for my backyard retreat are to paint the dreary concrete retaining wall at the back with sparkling white and replacing the aging chain link fencing with pretty white heavy duty vinyl fencing, 6 foot high and wall-like ... making the backyard more of an outdoor living room. I can paint the retaining wall this Fall when the weather begins to cool and plan on replacing the fencing in the Spring. My youngest son used to work for a fencing company and knows how to do the installation, so all I need to do is save for the fencing itself ... and then pay him and a few buddies a reasonable amount to install it.
Since I won't be able to use my living room tomorrow, I'll be setting up my dining room as a sewing station and see if I can get a few pillow and tote finishes done. I am hoping I have enough money left in my home improvement account after I pay for the yard work to buy a china cabinet for the dining room this weekend, taking advantage of the extended 4th of July sales. Then, it is onward and upward to saving for a kitchen re-hab ... now that we have an empty nest, we are fixing up all the wear and tear that raising a family caused ... and changing the look from tattered, worn-out country to something a bit more sophisticated ... a sort of upscale rustic Maine cabin with a bleached driftwood finish to the wooden cabinets to work well with the Pergo flooring of dark grey stone pattern and the black and stainless steel appliances. I also want to get rid of the dreadful sandpainted wall and ceiling treatment that came with the house and I'd love to bump out the one kitchen window to have a sort of bay window herb garden/greenhouse arrangement. It shouldn't take me more than a year to save the money, barring car-tastrophes or other unexpected expenses. I also have four pieces of antique furniture that need to be professionally refinished: an old ice box that I will be giving to my youngest son, my grandmother's dressing table that will become a fixture in my sewing room to be, a lovely old pine dresser that will go in the master bedroom and a free-standing Hoosier kitchen cabinet that I'd like to finish the same as the kitchen cabinets. Empty nesting has some unforeseen expenses of its own ... converting the place into a comfortable retreat for an older couple rather than a functional home base for a growing family of five.