Saturday, December 28, 2019

12 "Dones" of Housemas

Since we bought our house 7 years ago, we've had a running To-Do list that seems to operate a little like a starfish. You cut off one arm and another grows in its place. You cross one thing off the list and another inevitably appears—often because when one thing becomes pretty, it illuminates the ugliness of the thing beside. Like when we enclosed our breezeway with a wall of redwood planks and suddenly realized that the garage door looked so hideous next to it, we needed to buy a new one.

Thankfully, in the last year or so we've been able to successfully amputate some of the starfish arms, taking our once two-page list down to about 3/4 of one page.

I've been terrible about blogging this year, but I wanted to post a list (partly for our own selfish project-tracking reasons) chronicling the To-Dos we've turned to Dones in 2019.

1. Driveway
This was essentially a miracle. I don't know what year our crumbly old asphalt driveway was laid, but it was The. Biggest. Eyesore. It brought down the aesthetic of the entire house. And every time I swept it after gardening, it would disintegrate. I was convinced that eventually, there would be no driveway left to sweep because every crumb of it would have been pushed into the lawn and the mulched planter.

Mr. W refused to even entertain the idea of a new driveway, so I would often say things like "When I win the lottery, the first thing I'm doing is pouring concrete!" I'm still not clear on what brought him around, but in the early fall, Mr. W decided to get a quote on cement. And it was so much more affordable than we thought it would be! So we did it. And it has totally transformed the front of our house. Worth every penny.

2. Retaining wall
Along with the driveway came a new niche for our trashcans and, possibly someday in the future, a cute little trailer. The catch was that we needed to make sure our neighbor's yard didn't accidentally avalanche into our new niche. Thus, the handsome new retaining wall.

3. Fountain
I think Mr. W added "fix fountain" to the to-do list like four years ago. We've had this fountain since we lived in Hollywood and I missed looking out the kitchen window to catch hummingbirds drinking from it and mockingbirds bathing. Very excited he got this puppy back up and running.

4. Sliding glass doors
The doors in our dining room and living room were original to the house—meaning they were installed in 1959. In addition to being murder traps (there was no way they were tempered glass) they were drafty, didn't slide great, and had grime around the frames that I couldn't ever seem to get clean. We (read: Mr. W, not me...) still need to patch the stucco around the new ones, but they have made a huge difference in our ability to control temperature inside the house and they look great (especially with our new carpet).

5. Curtain Rods
This was a minor update but I'd been wanting to do it a long time and am so happy. It's the equivalent of adding eyebrows to where none used to exist on a face.

6. Carpet
Not sure when the carpet was installed in our living room, but it was in sad shape when we bought the house. We shampooed the room two or three times, but as my dad once said about my beat-up Ford Escort "You can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse." There was a thinning spot next to the slider where water seepage had destroyed the padding and rug. And when we got two kittens whose favorite game involved plucking individual fibers from the grid and tossing them like captured prey, thinning turned to bald. We needed to pull the trigger on new carpet. The room is now thick and lustrous as a Kardashian.

7.  Backyard staircase
We just checked this one off the week before Christmas and there's still much to do with it. But the stairs are framed and we can now get down to our lower yard without having to walk all the way around to the dirt path that runs between our neighbors' house and ours. It's thrilling. I plan to run up and down these suckers to get in shape like Rocky. And one day, there will be grapevines growing on the slopes that border them.

8. Wood surround on the pizza oven
We put the pizza oven in two years ago and the BBQ platform next to it had been a skeleton ever since. After finding a master carpenter to help us with the trim above our kitchen cabinets (which should be #13 on this list...) Mr. W hired him to finally put some meat on the BBQ platform bones. Now this pretty redwood matches the rest of the wood on our property and finally the pizza oven can stand in its true saucy Neapolitan glory.

9. Garden fencing and boxes
Very early in the year, Mr. W set to work installing a deer fence around all of our fruit trees. We decided this part of the yard would be a better place to plant our big garden, and that garden would need protection from the local herbivores. The fence paid off in pounds and pounds of apricots and plums in the early summer and thanks to the planter boxes Mr. W built, we were able to save most of the smaller plants from the titanium army of undestroyable gophers. We need to do some work on our soil (we didn't get a single zucchini in this garden, which is unheard of) but were happy with our tomato, basil, tomatillo, and pumpkin yields.

10. Greenhouse plants
I did find time to craft a blog post about the greenhouse we built in the spring, but sadly that beauty sat empty and unfinished most of the year. Finally in the fall, we completed the assembly of the shelves inside of it and added some plants. I'm happy to say I've been getting jalapeños all winter and we're hoping our tomato plant will fruit soon. The cauliflower plants are also coming along quite nicely. The dream is to have some semblance of produce production going all year, every year.

11. Gas line in the fire pit
In spite of my deep-rooted love of campfire smell, Mr. W insisted we put in a gas option so we could use the firepit without having to go to bed smoke-scented. I guess it's nice to have the option, but I'm likely going to lobby for real wood the next time we make 'smores.

12. Murphy bed
With six nieces between the two of us, Mr. W and I often have families of four staying in our house. Sadly, we only had one guest room and one bed, so multiple members of the fam were relegated to the couch and aerobeds if they spent the night. We had decided quite awhile ago to buy a Murphy bed for his office so we could have another guest bedroom, and this year we finally bought a kit and put one together. It's nice that we can pack it up when it's not being used. And I dig how it kinda looks like an old fashioned bar or something. Cocktail, anyone?

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