This sea of flags was from Somers, Connecticut a few years ago. Each stands for a fallen soldier.

This sea of flags was from Somers, Connecticut a few years ago. Each was placed for a fallen soldier.

First things first. Thank you to everyone who has either served in the military, or supported someone who has served. Countless soldiers, families, and children have sacrificed to allow the freedom we know.

As I relax heading into the long Memorial Day weekend, the rain makes me wonder if I’ll get anything done outside. It’s rained hard for the past few days, and we’ve watched the temps drop into the 40’s today. It hardly seems like late May, but we are in New England where, if you don’t like the weather, just wait because a change always comes quickly. We have embarked on several home projects lately, mostly involving contractors. We’re taking down a few trees, having a large brush pile removed, replacing the carpet in our large basement, and thinking about replacing about a third of our windows. And then there’s the patio.

Working on the exterior of our home and yard has really taken a back seat to life over the past four years. Initially, we went about  things with all the gusto of a new homeowner who had more time than money to keep up the appearances put into the home so the previous owners could sell. In that time, the changes that they made on the surface didn’t last. Since purchasing the home five years ago, we had the house painted, repaved the pothole filled driveway, and, out of necessity, replaced both the roof and the four skylights in the roof of our Florida room. We ignored the landscaping with the exception of occasional focused effort, pruning, and mulch most years.

With each passing season, we know that we need to focus on this 50+ year old house itself. We have been stashing cash away after paying off all of the cars, mostly because we never want to be in the situation we were a year after moving to New England. We had burned through almost all of our available cash just to get by, so we did what we could inexpensively. Inside, we repainted all three bedrooms, the living room, dining room, and hall. We painted both up and down stairways. But, it’s time to step up the game and deal with more than the surface issues. We ignored the gardens except for planting a few new flowering bushes and being very agressive with our pruning tools. This year, our pruning efforts are starting to pay off with plants finally flowering for the first time since we’ve lived here, and trees that look much healthier than they did when we bought the place.

Inside, we have put up with original, 50+ year old windows that leak fog up with every cold winter day, and the underlying windowsills that are now mushy from rot. Energy waste isn’t our primary concern, but the rotting wood from the windows can ruin the walls beneath them and create a huge expense that is bound to follow. We have over thirty windows in all, so replacing all of them at once would come close to $20,000. We’re just not in the position to do at this time as you can imagine. Replacing the worst ones, in some semblance of order, seems like our best course of action. Sue did a rough measurement of each of the worst ones, close enough that a trip to Lowe’s will allow us to ballpark the net window cost. There are additional costs involved such as labor, so experts will tell you to double the window cost to get us close financially. It’s going to be a depressing visit to Lowe’s, I’m afraid.The good news, according to our neighbor, is that we can use new construction windows which are both less expensive and better built than generic replacement ones. Let’s hope he’s right.

And then there’s the patio. Our patio consists of flagstones, sitting on top of what we guess is dirt and stones. There are steps down from the front on the west side, and grass / stones leading down on the east side. Our basement is a walk out, with the south half underground and the north half opening to our Florida room and then the patio and back yard. The patio is contained by railroad ties that are 20+ years old, installed by the original homeowner. The ties have disintegrated as the years have gone by, with the structural support seemingly less and less secure each month. We need a major renovation of the patio – just shoring it up is not smart. No one uses railroad ties anymore for this sort of landscaping due to the deterioration problem.

We have our grill on one corner of the patio and need to come up with a plan to anchor the grill somehow. Our current grill went tumbling off the deck during one of the hurricanes that passed through last fall. The only thing that caught it was the attached gas line hose – and that could have erupted if a spark was present. We had the feeder standpipe from the big gas tank fixed, but only with the contingency that we needed to anchor the grill down within 30 days or they would disconnect the gas. So a temporary anchor needs to be in place after this weekend. The current grill is banged up, broken, but still works a bit until we can replace it. Again, that’s in the plans for this weekend, knowing that a patio replacement will require re-thinking the whole grill situation.

Time to enjoy the rain and relax a bit for the long holiday weekend before working outside if the rain stops.

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