let’s take this outside

I recently came across the line, “Gardening is decorating outside,” or something to that effect. I can’t remember where I read it, but I like it.

I’ve been doing a lot of outside decorating lately. If you consider hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt and rocks and hacking apart dead tree limbs “decorating.” I’m not at the point where I’m kneeling over flower beds in clamdiggers and pearls, patting little petunias into mulch that a landscaping crew just put down. But maybe someday.

A few major outdoor projects have gone down recently. Not really in the estate sale vein, but it still falls under “home improvement,” so I’m going for it.

The past few years at our house have been all about masonry. My lack of any kind of savings is proof of this.

Frank, my mason, is first generation Italian beefcake, and is slowly taking over the business from his dad, Frank Sr. Frank Jr. has big muscles and hangs out with guys named Rocco and Sal and drives a black Corvette you can hear from ten miles away. He’s also one of the sweetest guys I know. He loves to hang out with his Nonna, goes to church every Sunday, and was heartbroken when his cat died. He prayed hard for Peter last summer when Pete’s aortic aneurysm ruptured (Pete survived, thank you Jesus). He also works his muscled ass off, and does beautiful masonry. See below.

Fall 2014: Old/new steps.


Summer 2015: New patio.



Here’s what Frank did to keep the original square stoop, which works with the new mosaic style of the patio:


April 2016: We had THREE retaining walls in front of the house, two of them crumbling. I’m thinking the front yard was used as the town dump while the house was being built, in 1930 (I’ve uncovered ceramic plates, metal garden tools, a really badass utility knife, and tons of glass). Once they finished dumping, they constructed two “walls” (i.e., stacks of unmortared rocks and bricks) above the main one, put down topsoil, planted 10,000 hostas and a bed of pachysandra, then hid it all behind a tidy row of privet. La la la…


From the street it appears somewhat acceptable, until you look behind the privet. I didn’t take many photos because I wanted desperately to forget, but here’s a sampling (them there bricks are the top “wall”):


So, two weeks ago we took out the top two walls and replaced them with one large one, and since then I’ve been digging up and leveling 86 years of fill, invasive plants, and roots from trees long dead. Now I’m starting with a blank slate:


Once my back, legs, arms, neck, shoulders, and hands recover, I can get busy decorating.


4 thoughts on “let’s take this outside

  1. Can I come over and dump some stuff between the walls before you start planting? Honestly, it looks so much better, Sal! What a difference.


  2. You are making my old property next door look like the slums! Glad I am not there having to “keep up with the Jonses”. All joking aside, it will be a beautiful transformation. You go girl!


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