Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The whole 6 yards

After moving into our house a little over a year ago, we didn’t do much to the outside. We (meaning mainly Sparky) had done so much work remodeling the inside that we decided the outside could wait.  Remember the jungle I showed you last year? Yep, still there.

This summer though, we’d finally had enough. The deck was falling apart and the bushes in the front were taking over in the front of the house. Both of us HATED the front “flower” bed.  It was full of rocks and weeds, 25+ year old nasty junipers and other random bushes. Why oh why did everyone plant junipers in the late 70s and early 80s? I can’t believe they looked any better back then. And the smell. Blech.

I thought that I had all kinds of pictures of the front of the house. Do you think I can find any? Nope. So, bare with the befores. One is scanned from the original sales flyer and one is in the winter. But, hopefully, you’ll still get the idea.

Imagine almost another 2 years of growth on these things!



Anyway, we’d talked about tearing just the junipers out and trimming the rest. But I finally said, I don’t care if everything goes. It all looks like sh crap and I'm tired of looking at it. So, that’s what Sparky did.

I came home from work one day to see this.  (These are the pics Sparky took with his cell to send to our family to let them know how crazy we are.)



And it was WONDERFUL! You could actually see the front door! (You could also see how crappy the front porch is, but that’s a story for another day. Oh, and there's Peachie. Hi Peachie!)

But, what do we do now? You can see the front of the house, which is great, but now you can also see all the weeds, craptastic rock and is that the foundation? Yikes! The lowest part of that space was right next to the house. Not good. That means, whenever it rains, all the water is going towards the house instead of away from the it. Time to pull out those stumps and get some fill in there! Sparky attached some chain things to the stump and yanked them out with our Jeep.



Ugh. That looks like a.lot.of.work. 


This is the juniper root ball. I was told it was really heavy. All I know is that I'm glad it and it's nasty green, pee smelling greenery are gone.

We cleaned up the rock as best we could and called up our friends at Patio World to deliver 6 yards of screened black dirt. Do you know how much dirt 6 yards is? 16,200 pounds. I think the pile was about 4 feet high. (I should’ve taken a picture, but honestly, we didn’t want a reminder of how much dirt we shoveled.)

First thing we did was fill in the big holes left behind from the bushes. Then, we started filling in the big gap near the foundation of the house. I won’t lie. It sucked. I’m not made for manual labor. It was hot and it made my back hurt. At one point, Sparky said, “My old man taught me how to do a lot of stuff. The <insert bad word>. If he hadn’t, we could’ve hired all this stuff out.” To which I replied, “If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have married you.”  We work really well together, so while it wasn't the way we'd prefer to spend a day off, at least we were together! And we treated ourselves to a couple of adult beverages and awesome burgers in the nice cool air conditioning of JL Beers afterwards. (Mmmm, the Humpty Burger. Heaven!)

Anywho, once we had the holes filled and the gaps filled, we moved on to the rest until finally, after a couple of hours, we had this:




It looks so.much.better! I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to see a bunch of black dirt and no plants.

Although, I wasn’t as thrilled to see it on my feet. For once I was actually wearing real shoes and not flip flops. Obviously, since the dirt goes so well to my wonderful flip-flop tan line. Don't you agree?


Did I really just posted a picture of my dirty feet? My mom will be so proud! (Makes me giggle thinking about it.)

We’ve got other plans for the front of the house. Some will happen this year, some probably won’t be until next year. We definitely want to get some mulch down. We might plant a couple of things this fall to add some color. We WILL NOT be filling up the entire space. Just nice, average sized plants that won’t get out of control and are fairly low maintenance.

Maybe something like this:

peonies and pontentilla

We’ll see what we can find this fall.

Eventually, the front porch is coming off and a lovely stamped concrete patio is going in. I’ve got this great picture in my head of what it will look like…we’ll see if it matches reality.

We do have a new deck that I’ll share the details about soon. We LOVE it!

(And, I know that I have before pictures of the deck. I found them while looking for pictures for this post.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Can I get $1?

Funny how life gets in the way of everything else.

I write blog posts in my head pretty much everyday. Even more than I write Facebook status in my head, which is saying a lot.

I have a lot of projects and updates I need to be post, but they’ll have to wait for another day.

Today, I’d like to talk about auction sales. The last auction sale I went to was for my great-grandma. I think I was 5 or 6. I don’t remember much. It was hot. Mom wasn’t there so I got to eat and drink whatever I wanted.

My second auction sale was Saturday, July 14th. And it was a very different experience.

But, let’s start at the beginning. 18 months ago, my wonderful FIL passed away unexpectedly. He was in a horrible accident and left us way to soon. I loved him. He was a great man. Kind and funny. I was very lucky to have met him and know him for 13+ years. When I met my husband, my FIL was a contractor. He had a construction company, doing remodels, managing rental houses, finding great deals wherever he could. Before that he was a shop teacher. And I swear he knew everyone from South Dakota to Canada, Montana to Wisconsin. You might think that’s an exaggeration, but I’m not kidding. He never knew a stranger. And everyone he met immediately loved him.

He did have faults, though, and one was a big one. He liked junk. And he had a lot of it.

So, while I loved him, I also cursed him. He had so.much.stuff. Too much stuff. At least to someone going through it all, it seemed that way. Buildings on the farm, buildings in town, lots here, lots there…all of them full of stuff. All full of crap treasures. But it wasn’t just his stuff. He also had his parent's stuff, his in-law’s stuff and his uncle’s stuff. Add that all up and you have a lot of stuff. Stuff to sort, stuff to throw, stuff to keep and stuff to sell.  Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Hours, days and weekends worth of stuff.

Sparky, his mom, his sisters, BIL, nephews and I have spent quite a few days moving, sorting and throwing away all this stuff. And for what? To get ready for an auction sale. And this was no ordinary auction sale. Vehicles, tools, antiques, appliances, cabinets, paint, shovels, rubber boots. You name it, we had it. A junk lovers dream. Obviously, family gets first shot on stuff. The good stuff. The stuff my FIL pulled out of old barns, rental houses and anywhere else he found something he thought could be reused. The stuff he built, the stuff he treasured, the stuff he thought was good enough to bring home. The stuff he wanted to fill up his bins and buildings and yard with.

This is my some of my good stuff:



It's great stuff. Stuff that makes me happy. Stuff that I know will go great in our house. Stuff that means something. Stuff that Sparky agreed could come home with us.

And this is what the a stuff at the auction looked like:












North Dakota in July can go a couple of ways. Hot and humid and no wind. Or hot and kinda humid and 50 mph wind. (Awesome either way.) We ended up with hot and humid and no wind. And still ended up with a great turnout.

We had people in the yard (Sparky’s mom and dad had about 7 acres) at 9am. The auction didn’t start until 11am. (And that's with folks checking out the yard all week.)

The church ladies served a great lunch with homemade fried donuts. (Seriously, if you’ve never had them, come to ND, ask someone to make them for you…you won’t regret it. Bring sugar.)
Like I said, it was a great, sweltering hot, miserable, day.

This is what it looked like when we left on Sunday.




And, while it may look a little sad. All of us were so freaking happy. Almost all of the stuff was gone. My MIL said she wanted to hug every person walking to their pickup or car with a box of stuff. Many, many pickup loads left the yard that day. Many people found treasures to torture pass on to future generations. (Including my dear dad, sigh.)

After this experience, I know I could easily become an auction sale junky. Waiting to get my next fix. My only caveat is, to get the good stuff I just show up and show the auctioneer my number.