April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cost List for Adding Curb Appeal Projects

Hola!  The heat index hit 102 degrees F today here in my hometown.  The "lows" this evening will drop down to the high 70's, so the AC will stay on this evening and the windows will remain closed, sigh.  Relief is promised for Tuesday when a cold front from the north is supposed to start pushing through dropping the temperatures into the more normal for this time of year 70's with much lower dew points.  Again today the dew point is over 70 and it feels like a combination of an incinerator oven and too much steam in the steam bath outside for me to be comfortable.

I was out again, however, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. cleaning out and adding fresh water to the concrete bird bath (acts as the equivalent of Grand Central Station in NYC), watering a few shrubs and plants that did not get the benefits of the thunderstorm we had Friday night/Saturday early morning, and sweeping up nut shells from my tribe of squirrels - the mess never ends even if the weather keeps them away in their nests for most of the day.  A few of my squirrel tribe who have nests around my house do come down to the yard and lay in the shade in the grass, with their hind legs stretched out behind them, just like dogs do.  So cute!

I thought you might like to know what it's costs me thus far to embark on this round of adding curb appeal projects to my front yard.  As I've mentioned before, I'm retired and on a fixed budget, so I keep a close eye on those "miscellaneous expenditures!  So far, this is what I've spent to add some pizzazz to my front yard.  Cost includes shipping plus sales tax, if charged:

New red mailbox:  $47.99
New black porch light:  $60.58
Apple Red Rustoleum Paint for front door:  $8.65 (32 oz., which will be more than enough to provide me with two coats of paint for the door)
Black shutters for picture window (15" x 70"):  $68.89
Two artificial 3-ball topiaries:  $49.93

Total:  $236.04

This does not include the cost of installation of the new porch light, or the mailbox and shutters, which requires a masonry bit on a power screw driver/drill and a good ladder tall enough to reach the top of the picture window framing.  I am going to ask a neighbor who owes me a favor if he has the tools and know-how to do this and if he would be willing to help me out.  If not, I will have to hire a handyman to do these 3 installs for me.

Stay tuned.  I am dreaming of lush front yard garden beds extended out from the house to cut down on the amount of lawn I need to care for/cut, and have been day-dreaming over endless Pinterest photos of gorgeous front yards that would be ridiculously labor intensive to keep looking that good.  My reality is that my well-tended stretch of lush green grass actually needs to be cut RIGHT NOW both out front and in the back yard, but I'm not going to attempt it with the heat index over 100 degrees F and dew points in the tropical zone, I'd keel over in 10 minutes tops!  If I'm going to have to cut the grass every 5 days during this time of year, I want to minimize the area that needs cutting for sure!  That means expanding the flower beds.  That is something I think I may be able to afford to hire a landscaper to do for me (remove sod and add edging, I'll do the planting and primping).

However, tomorrow I am going to be calling around to firms that specialize in poly-foam injections to raise concrete slabs and sidewalks, etc. to arrange for free estimates.  I want to find out exactly how much it would cost me to have my front sidewalk raised where it needs to be so I don't have a giant size step to the first step on my front porch. From what I've read, it supposed to be more stable over time than the traditional mudjacking technique using concrete and soil injection to raise a slab, etc.  I've been sitting on that project since I moved into this home nearly 4 years ago, and it's time to get it fixed.  No more procrastinating, Jan!

Updated June 18, 2018:  Oops - I made a mistake.  The two topiaries' cost (including shipping) is $116.29, not $49.93 as I previously reported above.  Thus, the total expenditures for my planned front yard pick-me-ups is $302.40, not $236.04 as previously stated.  Me bad, mea culpa!

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