When we were preparing to move into our first home, we made a list of things we wanted to do to it. Big things and small things all went on The List, and it got long quickly. We got some of the projects done (with help) before we moved in–painting, installing a garage door opener, demolishing the kitchen floor and laying a new one. Unfortunately, that barely put a dent in The List. We told ourselves that we would quickly finish the other jobs after the move, but between unpacking and finishing the school year and the drowsy, indolent haze that covers hot summer days like a mosquito net, we haven’t gotten very far.
A few projects, like building the deck and fencing in the backyard, will have to wait until funds permit us to hire a professional. But there’s a nagging list of small, doable home improvement projects that need to be completed before I go back to work in the fall. Here, in no particular order, are ten of them:
1. Annihilate the stealthily creeping grove of aspens slowly taking over our backyard. According to G.I. Joe, our backyard neighbor, they are quaking aspens, and they started from suckers that spawned off of two trees he cut down in his yard some time ago. Now they’ve formed a colony that runs the entire length of our back fence, probably 30 or 40 saplings in all. Joe says that if they’re left unchecked, they’ll pull up the fence, kill his spruce bushes, and wind their root system all through the yard, preventing the growth of other plants. I was able to pull up half a dozen of the smaller saplings with my bare hands, but most of them are tied into their linked root system so tightly I can’t budge them. Fortunately, just as I was on the cusp of borrowing a chain saw and possibly cutting my leg off in a terrible accident, my oh-so-smart friend Kathy suggested employing the loppers I use to trim the rose bush. It works perfectly! Tonight I went out and cut down a couple of the very thickest trunks with no problem. I’m planning to go out and take care of the rest tomorrow. Update: finished.
2. Reseal all the windows and doors in the house. After ten years, the sealant that frames our windows and doors is starting to crack and peel. We have to scrape off the old stuff and apply new before the next Idaho winter sweeps in with its frigid temperatures.
3. Recaulk the bathrooms. At some point, the previous owners noticed the waterproof caulking around the tub and sink starting to pull away from the porcelain. They just applied another layer over what was already there. It needs to be scraped and reapplied.
4. Refresh the landscaping. I was amazed and delighted by the number and variety of beautiful flowering plants that grew in our yard this year, all without my help. But the beds need to be weeded and new bark cover laid down. Paul would also like to dig down and lay some paving stones level with the ground all around the flower beds.
5. Touch up the paint. The baseboards have seen better days, and there are some jagged nicks along the border of the walls and ceilings where the painter’s tape pulled up some paint along with it. I’ll probably have to devote a day to walking around with a little cup of paint and a paintbrush, taking care of all the spots that need retouching.
6. Furnish the living room. Going from a two-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house presents a not-altogether-unpleasant problem: not enough furniture. We put our existing couch and chair in the family room, and now we’re trying to find something we like for the upstairs living room.
7. Clear enough space in the garage to be able to park in there. This is essential before the snow flies in November. It would be nice to get it done before that, though, especially since the recent bout of hot weather has turned the inside of our Ford into a microwave. We’ve unpacked most of our boxes, we’ve given away some things we weren’t using, and next week we’ll donate a few larger items to the Family Promise rummage sale our church is doing. That should carve out enough space for the Escort. Update: completed 8/6/09.
8. Bring our freezer home. Seven years ago, when we moved to Idaho, my parents generously bought us a large chest freezer for storing frozen meat and stuff. (“And stuff” does not, in this case, include dead bodies. Just so you know.) Unfortunately, our small apartment did not have any room for the freezer, so it has been living, unplugged and unused, in Paul’s parents’ basement for all that time. Once the garage is cleaned out, we will finally have the space to store a whole frozen cow on the premises, if we so desire. Or an ice sculpture. Or 20 half-gallon cartons of Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream bought on sale. I like this.
9. Put doors on Katie’s closet. When we moved in, Katie’s closet doors (the folding kind) were disconnected and leaning against the wall in her room. Paul attempted to hang them, only to find that they don’t fit. They’re too tall. I’m not sure what happened there–maybe the old doors were damaged and the previous owners tried to replace them without measuring? Anyway, something must be done, but I’m not sure what. Curtains? New doors? Japanese paper screens?
10. Buy a kitschy piece of wall art. Our house still needs that special something, that one weird sculpture or unusual painting that will both express our unique personalities and cause people to look at it and make a little “huh” noise under their breath. Got anything like that?