The Punchlist

I’m like the suburban housewife version of The Karate Kid. Five hours of tree pruning, cutting, raking, tying bundles, and marking larger branches for removal, and every muscle’s feelin’ it. I’ve got some rad “carnage,” too (bruises and cuts). Thank heaven for arnica! And sorry to all the screaming trees. It’s for your own good.

Unlike the Karate Kid, though, I’ve got a gym membership, so I can go take a schvitz afterward (sauna, in this case).

The buffer at the rear of our property has some nice boulders inside it, and a Japanese Maple and a Weeping Cherry tree that are being squelched by overgrown bushes, plus hazards like Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Poison Sumac (none of which I’m allergic to, I’m happy to have found out!), plus some thorny-ass muthafuckas that I am determined to protect my young from.

It’s bordered by what could be a charming stone wall, if it weren’t falling apart. Every crevice is a receptacle for leaves. It needs to be cleaned up and put together solidly, so our daughter can play there. I not only want her to be safe, I want to create a space that stimulates her imagination and becomes her theater for outdoor play; her lab for natural science; or whatever she makes it out to be.

I complained to the landscaper that he and his crew were ignoring the buffer, because I thought their services included our whole property.

“I can do ANYTHING for MONEY,” he said.

“I’m not asking you to do things FOR FREE,” I assured him.

I asked how much he’d charge to remove the hardened, pebbly earth and replace it with topsoil. Let’s just say, he priced himself out of a task. Then my husband and I decided to clean up the whole buffer ourselves. It was a thrilling moment, in fact, when we decided to make this a family project. Fresh air, manual labor… what could be healthier?

I got a handful of tools at Home Depot and I’ll be whittling away at the thicket whenever I get the chance.

I might have overdone it today, though. I need something stronger than arnica. Topricin is good. Recommendations for an effective muscle rub are welcome.

Gardening is a feel-good project. It’s so absorbing, I lose track of time. (I’m probably avoiding paperwork. And my toddler finally cried because I wasn’t paying enough attention to her.)

I felt the pride of ownership!

This is a totally new sensation! I’ve lived in seven apartments over the past fifteen years. Decor and furnishings were, in the grand scheme, temporary. I can’t trash this place like a rockstar. (Someone please tell our toddler she can’t trash this place like a rockstar.)

I realize the more work I do to this house with my own hands, the more invested and attached I’ll likely feel. It’s our first house, and we’ve lived in it exactly two years. We say it’s a “starter house,” because the upstairs is small, and the pipes creak, and the workmanship and electrical aren’t up to code, and the air conditioning’s illegal, and there’s no access to a cavernous attic that might be home to bats, and it’s got an unfinished basement that leads to a crawlspace that’s wet and dungeonesque (things I never had growing up), and it’s freezing during winter… But, by golly, on nights like these when we’re cozy and peaceful in it, I love it.

…Maybe I’ll paint the house! (It’s beige. Some would say taupe. It’s beige with taupe trim.) (Needs power washing first.) Oh, and we’ve never had the gutters cleaned. Plant stalks are growing out of them. Is that a trouble spot? I’ll also build a portico!

We have new exterior lights (on sale from LampsPlus) we plan to install (electrician is M.I.A.). We need a new mailbox. These brass things are hideous (and broken):


It’s by no means a “fixer upper”; we wanted a place where kitchen and bath had already been updated. But, after two years getting to know its quirks, it’s time to start tackling the punch list, project by project.

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
This entry was posted in Family, Health, Home Improvement, Marriage, Nature, New York, Outdoor, Parenting, Photography, Psychology, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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