There’s something about home-ownership that brings a smile to my face. Whether it be mowing my lawn, helping the wife with her landscaping or even cooking dinner in our tight fitting kitchen, I’m in love. Not that it’s been all roses and sunshine from the get go, but nothing in life is ever perfect. The wife and I were both battling a nasty flue when we first moved in. What should have passed in a few day’s time lingered on for weeks. Over endless days of sickness and many sleepless nights we managed to complete the transition of moving our belongings from our apartment into our home. When the sickness finally passed I was more than ready to tackle the endless to do list of household projects. They ranged from the minor to the major. There was the kitchen sink that didn’t properly drain, gutters long since clogged with debris were the source of some frustration as the endless rain would pour down the foundation and into the basement; the clogged bathtub drain that was finally resolved, although it didn’t stop myself or the wife from wearing flip flops while bathing those first few weeks, ever fearful of whatever may rise up from the drain and slither across our feet. There was the bathroom sink which was another do it yourself fix. While this was one of the more easy jobs on the list it was more costly and time consuming, therefor put on the back burner so to speak. So after the more minor issues were taken care of, I set my sites on the living room. It took quite a few layers of joint compound to patch up the cracks running across the plaster ceiling and walls, followed by the paint color of our choice. The addition of crown molding along the ceiling, and retiring the old front door for a more functional one was the final touch. Did I mention that our new home was quite the fixer upper? Structurally sound but neglected over the years. The mirrored medicine cabinet over our bathroom sink sports a drugstore label from 1956! Any updates on the house prior to our arrival was nothing more than a distant memory.
Just in time for the weather to finally cooperate meant that it was time to change my stride and move to the outside of our house. The wife followed suit and in a very short time transformed the front and side yard from over grown and weed chocked, to something which now garners many compliments from visitors and neighbors alike. An ugly eyesore which was once a tree, chopped back to nothing more than an exposed stump was removed by me in a little over an hour’s time with nothing more than a shovel and a hatchet.
At long last I had the time to tackle the biggest project to date that my wife made no effort to conceal her desire for. I love that woman but her Pinterest list of ideas and projects is quite endless. Our house has a front porch on it which would have been quite charming if built properly. It didn’t take more than a glance to realize that this porch wasn’t built by a professional and had been done in a hurry. The entire structure was out of level, the railings sagged, the entry stairs were located on the driveway side which allowed the mailman a prime opportunity to sneak a peak in the front windows as he made the daily deliveries. Overall it was at best, a very awkward structure that adorned the front of our house. I started off simply enough with building a new set of stairs in the proper location. I built them from scratch, none of that Home Depot pre-made stuff for me. The removal of the original railing, only to re-salvage it at a later day was the next step in the process. The porch was finally starting to take shape but there was still plenty of room for improvement. The original porch stopped two feet short of the end of the house. Why it was ever built this way is beyond me. Extending it the necessary distance and capping off the exposed bottom with lattice was what finally transformed this dismal structure. Last but not least, a coat of paint on the railings and I was finished. Not one to rest long I soon found myself immersed in building a sidewalk to compliment the new front porch. Most houses in my neighborhood have a sidewalk that’s either concrete or blacktop. They’re functional but not much to look at. Since the wife had spent countless hours landscaping around the porch it only made sense to build something to compliment her hard work. The solution I came up with for our future sidewalk was simple; cobble stones! And that’s how on the 4th of July while most people were at a cookout, the wife and I were outside from the early morning on, digging up the grass in front of the porch. On one of the few days this summer where it didn’t rain, we labored in the intense heat. With the sun on our shoulders and sweat running into our eyes we dug for what seemed an eternity. Wouldn’t you know it, that eternity of digging came to an end as the sun was starting to set, just in time for us to enjoy the fireworks with some fellow neighbors. Days of hard work followed after that 4th of July and at long last I laid the final cobble stone of that sidewalk. I gave myself a few brief moments to revel in my accomplishments. I’m no mason, but even I had to admit that the sidewalk looked good. Gathering up my tools I couldn’t help but feel some pride. For years I had taken homeowners ideas and dreams and made them into a reality. I had toiled endlessly to make someone else’s house look and feel like a home. Finally it was my turn to do the same.
Many nights since that final cobble stone was laid have been spent out on the new front porch as the wife and I unwind from a long day’s work. On occasion I find myself filled with reflection. We transplanted ourselves to a new neighborhood and were quickly embraced by our surrounding neighbors as they saw the hard work and determination we put forth into making a home for ourselves. Whether it be a kind word of encouragement or a bag of tomatoes picked from one of their gardens, we have become familiar faces, the ones that neighbors wave to in passing or drop in on. The memory that lives on for me is on that 4th of July as we finished our day’s work only to unexpectedly spend the remainder of our evening with neighbors as we watched the fireworks light up the sky over the Albany plaza. I hold that memory of a day well spent close to my heart, along with the satisfied realization that there are many more years of memories to be made in a place that has become my home.