Thursday, November 13, 2014

Building a New Home for the Robins!

Remember our lovely Robin neighbors?

Once they were all raised and gone, it was time to tackle the balcony.

At first we thought we might be able to scrape and paint this decking.

But it was so very rotten.  Dry rot had made some of the boards so weak, they crumbled beneath you.  I was worried it wouldn't even hold our weight.  But Scott just climbed out there and started yanking off the railing and soon we were left with nothing but a platform.

The planks at the bottom were rotten, too.  Especially in the corner where the Robins had nested....hmmmmm.  The beams below these planks, however, were not rotted!  They were extensions of the beams that run under our bedroom floor and had been protected by a good coat of paint.  And though we considered getting rid of the balcony altogether, we decided to rebuild it.  The windows in this bedroom come almost to the floor level.  They would be dangerous if nothing was left outside.  I didn't want any grandchildren falling out of windows!

Fritz agreed.  No dogs falling out windows either!

So we started rebuilding!  Made a new floor.  Added some posts for support.  The previous balcony had no corner posts!  Nothing to insure that when you leaned against the railing, it didn't just fall right off!


I wasn't thrilled to have Scott working out there with nothing between him and falling to his death on the concrete below...

...or worse yet, falling an additional 12 feet into the bottom of the concrete swimming pool!!

Sometimes I reached out the window and held on to the back of his belt.  He didn't appreciate that.  But it made me feel better!

Soon, we had railings and balusters.

We put the balusters a little closer together than the previous ones were.  For safety's sake!

Balusters were attached from the top---then hung down loosely.

We built it from the top...then had to come and finish it from the bottom.  Carefully screwing everything into place.

Not bad for having never built a deck before!

It's not perfect!  I'm the one that held that corner post askew when it was attached....

...but we painted it to match the trim of the house and if I hadn't pointed it might not have noticed!

We don't know if this corner will measure up to Mr. and Mrs. Robin's expectations next year.  But we hope so!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The End of the Money Pit's Money Pit!!!

Well, we finally did it!  We got rid of something deep and dark and scary!

We got rid of the swimming pool.

A swimming pool is a lovely thing!  It provides recreation in the summer!  A place to splash and play.  You can have parties!  It lends an air of sophistication and elegance to your lovely home.  Everyone wants one!  Don't they?!?

This "Swimming Pool" was no longer any of that.

It was a SNAKE PIT!  A Turtle Pond.  A Frog Swamp.  A Mosquito Hatchery.  An Eyesore.  And a Grandchild Hazard!!!

It was cracked deeply in several places.  The plumbing to it was cracked and broken deep within the earth.  The plaster was cracked and peeling.  The pump didn't' work.  The cement walkways around it were heaved up in wrong angles--causing stubbed toes or worse.

And the worst thing of all?  The entire pool area sloped back towards the foundation of the house---sending gallons of rain water--right into our basement!

THIS is the DREAM of the pool.  What it might have been like.  Sparkling Clean.  Perfectly manicured.  A glass of pink lemonade in my hand while I laze around on a floating chaise lounge...

But it was not to be.  The pool we had was not repairable.  

And for a while, we thought we would never be able to afford to have it removed.  Quotes for removal were coming in at really high numbers.  It seems that anything with the words "Swimming Pool" in the title would cost an extravagant amount.  An amount we hadn't factored in when we bought The Money Pit last year.

"WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO!!?"  was our repeated mental quandary.

Then we heard of a man who removed pools for far far less!  We tried to call him in the spring.  We tried to call him in the summer.  He was too busy.  Too many pools to remove.  Finally---just on the very edge of Cold Minnesota Winter---he called us back and said he had time to do our pool!

But we would have to decide quickly---because winter was upon us.  Once there was snow---he couldn't drive his equipment up and down the hills around our house.  The ground would freeze solid and he couldn't dig it out.  We had 2 days to decide---otherwise, it would be next year.  

This was our one chance to get it done.  We had that much money in the bank.  It was affordable!

We called him back that afternoon...and the very next morning, I heard a strange RRRrrr Rrrrrr sound.

I looked out the dining room window and saw this monster Tonka Toy going by....

It stopped in the backyard behind the pool.

Soon a giant dump truck joined in the fun.

Within minutes, I thought then end of the world had happened.  BOOM!!!

A giant boulder was being dropped from the basket of the excavator onto the bottom of the swimming pool!  It wasn't your typical wrecking ball---but it was wrecking things!!

BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!!!!  It shook the house.  Fritz went into hiding.  The pictures on the walls went askew!

Over and over.  Breaking the pool cement into pieces.  Piling it out of the way.

It felt like an earthquake every few minutes.  By the end of the day, my nerves were frazzled!

In the evenings, we would go out and look at the progress.

How on earth would this giant mess EVER get cleaned up!

But it DID get cleaned up!!!  The dump truck was loaded up and driven away.  Load after load of cement boulders.

The sidewalks were pulled away from the house and stacked in great piles of concrete sheets.

Dirt was moved around.  Filled in.  Packed down.  Smoothed off!

And before I knew it---I had a BACKYARD!!  No more pit of snakes and doom!  No more danger of falling 12 feet to a concrete death!  No more eyesore!  No more anything!  Just nice smooth dirt!

Nice smooth dirt that slopes away from the house slightly---as it should---and gently down towards the lake.  Just like it was 35 years ago before a pool was ever installed.

I hadn't realized how worried I was about that empty useless pool.  I hadn't known that I was carrying anxiety over it.  But when it was gone---It felt like a heavy load had been lifted off of me!

"IT'S GONE!  IT'S REALLY GONE!" sings my heart every time I look out the window!

We spread out some grass seed the day they were done.  It will sprout in the spring and hopefully keep the dirt in place before the spring rains.

Then we moved some planks for a future garden.

And the very next day, WINTER came!  We had made it just in time!