The first photos here were taken 6-11-08 according to my computer's photoviewer. My camera at the time had datestamp function errors, so if you see red numbers at the corner of any of them (it happens randomly) just ignore it. lol
I have posted the pictures on my Facebook page and shared them in other places, but for the sake of Blog continuity, i am going to redo it here as well.
So as you may be able to tell from the date i stated, this is what the property looked like the summer following the fire that happened sometime in February.
The owner had much of the worst of the debris cleared up and her son came and salvaged a lot of the big pieces of scrap metal. That was during the beginning of the current economic downturn that began a while ago, where it was a trend to collect scrap metal and turn it in, it was a big boom at the time and the son was able to line his pockets with the proceeds of his mother's loss.
During this time, the large gaping pit- 8-10 feet deep in places was a huge temptation for some neighborhood boys. Nobody in this neighborhood watches their kids, with the exception of the people that live directly across the street in front of our house.
It was frustrating and a bit scary to watch these kids keep sneaking onto this yard. Under the grass, weeds and plants lurked broken glass, rusty nails, jagged boards, wires.... a very serious situation and not a safe place to play. The police kept putting up caution tape, but the unregulated kids just kept taking it down. Since this land adjoined ours, the kids would also come right onto our yard and started messing around with our stuff!
At this time, i was still recovering from the car accident and had just graduated to crutches. I was still barely able to get outside on my own. I think these were pictures of the first day i was able to get out and take a close look at what things were like out there. It was a beautiful day and i think that is what lured me out. I was 90% bedridden for about 4 months prior so getting up and out the door was a real treat.
This picture reminds me of the day a few days after this, when i caught some kids playing in my yard at our basketball hoop. The accident totally destroyed my Hyundai, so when my hubby was at work there were no cars indicating anyone was home. I was taking a nap when i heard the basket ball being dribbled and skateboards running in the driveway. I was so mad. These kids had been asked nicely to not mess around in our yard, but of course they thought they could sneak in when they thought nobody was home. Of course i yelled.
This is something i never would have done as a child. We had respect instilled in us... never would this have been an issue in my youth. I don't think i can accept it. The parents do nothing about it either.
That is part of the reason for the stockade fence we have been putting up.
Below is a picture of part of the front of our house. Mostly for clarity purposes since most of the houses that will be seen in the pictures are not ours. The big white one with the melted siding belongs to the not-so-nice neighbors. We have had many issues with them.
My flower garden dosen't look so hot because i was not able to do anything with them that spring. Usually i would have been out there as soon as possible, weeding and thinning. That is if i wasn't too tired from work or dealing with depression. But my gardens have been neglected for 2 summers now, this year mostly because rainy weather still makes me very lame and not much can be done when the weather is as soggy as this summer's was! Slugs and snails galore!
But anyway, this is what our house looked like before we got our new siding- remember that we had some fire damage...
That is the day the siding was beginning to be installed. The heat from the house fire had bubbled the paint that was on the asbestos siding and it had begun to peel. Bare asbestos is not something that anyone wants to have around, so the insurance gave us some money to repaint that side. Well, we had planned to get siding done so we used what we got for insurance to supplement the cost of new siding over all. That silver board leaning up against the house is called Fanfold, and we went and had it put under the siding. It adds insulation and sound dampening and also can help keep the asbestos siding isolated better.
My dad's good friend does siding installations so we hired him to do it for us since he does great work. My dad also wanted to help with the installation, so we got him for free.. I love my dad.
We went with a fairly premium siding, we had the money from the fire insurance, plus some pain and suffering payout from my accident, so we figured while we were in a position to do so, why not get the good stuff. Its more of an investment than a silly splurge.
The house isn't quite square to the ground anymore- its over 100 years old.... but it wasn't bad... Up go the corner edges. That is the foundation for the siding lengths.
Then the Fanfold insulation , worth every penny. It noticeably cut down on the house's draftiness level.
The new color, versus the old color.
I didn't take as many pictures of the siding as i thought i had, i also can't find the finished pics. I think they got lost in a computer crash i had earlier this spring. So that is it for this subject!
On to the yard remake!
We were able to get the purchase of the land finalized late fall of 2008.
I don't remember where the date is written down, but i could look it up later and edit in the details.
But due to issues we have had with the neighbors across the lot, there was no way we were starting anything without getting a surveyor to give us the exact and correct property lines. We also knew the lines on the side with the nice neighbors were not entirely right and we certainly did not want to take what did not belong to us on either side--- But i paid a pretty penny for that lot (let's not forget that the money came from pain and suffering payout from a car accident with a drunk, that almost killed me) and i wanted every honest inch that i had paid for.
The only thing we did was go along and mow down some of the growth and dump one load of fill into the pit- which the not-so-nice neighbors promptly called the town about to complain.
Lying, she said we had a dump truck (it was my dad's trailer on his Ford pickup) full of clean fill.
We had already asked about permits and were told we didn't need any for what little dirt we had at the time. But that doesn't stop people who are just nasty.
Anyway, the town official recognized that it wasn't a dump truck load of fill and confirmed no permit needed
and that was all. We only had the one load to do anyway- to fill in the deepest part of the pit for the neighborhood kids' safety.
We got rid of this shrub, which crowded into our driveway every summer
We also cleaned much of the "garden"debris, well i say "we" but it was mostly my mother and hubby that did the cleaning.
The former owner was a collector of many garden trinkets, large and small.... broken and whole, concrete and plastic. There was about 40 years worth of kitschy clutter in there. About six of my dad's trailer loads full. We did some cleaning that fall, but the bulk of it was done after the survey was completed and the snow was all melted in the spring of 2009.
So the surveying had began sometime after snowfall and i took some pictures, but i think those were lost along with the siding documentation, and the surveying was completed early this past spring. After that was settled, and we found that the not-so-nice neighbor's fence was indeed on our property.. as much as 4 feet over, we had to get some simple legal advice on what to do about it.
A registered letter requesting that they remove it within 30 days was advised, and we sent it- giving 45 days in an effort to be accommodating ... which was ignored.
In fact, they ignored us almost completely except for the one finger salute they would give us every time they drove by.
Not rain nor snow nor dark of night kept them from giving us and anyone in our yard, driveway, sidewalk or window this historical signal of friendship and respect...cough....cough....
We got a little help with fill from the people that live at the other end of the street. The spit of land where the trees were (that i posted pics being cut down a few days ago) had a number of large boulders on it. They asked if they could discard them in our pit since there was no other place to do so. We were only too happy to accept the rocks which was a solution that saved us all a bit of money. So those neighbors used their little Bobcat and moved all the rocks and that was done in a day.
So, the real work began April 18, 2009
There were a lot of pretty nice landscape plants that had been planted in the yard. There were a ton of Hostas, and my mother loves Hostas. I am not a big fan, so i was more than happy to let her have them all since she was being so helpful to me in doing so much yard work that i am not able to do.
I went all over the yard for a few days before the guys got too crazy and i took pink spray paint and pink survey tape and marked every ornamental plant that i wanted saved.
There had to be at least 30 different Hostas, large leafed, small leafed, variegated, margined, ruffly, flat.... all types.
There were a ton of old fashioned lilac, purple and white flowered. There was one French lilac, a nice Yew (you can see it in the first picture in this entry where it has a lot of orange where it got fire damage- but it recovered very nicely), a red twigged, variegated dogwood, a white rugosa rose, the beautiful Tree Hydrangea that is my profile picture, a double magenta Rose of Sharon, a female holly, the two dwarf grafted apple trees, a huge flowering quince, a number of old fashioned peonies, pink turtlehead, a bleeding heart and way more than i can list.
There were a couple ornamental pines but they were so misshapen from being planted next to structures or having junk piled on top of them over the years, that we just cut them down.
We saved what we could, and dug up and sent almost all of it to live at my parent's house. We only discarded a few plants, just the pines really. We kept the apples, the Rose of Sharon and the tree Hydrangea, the rest went to live on my parents' seven or so acres. Once i get things settled and plotted, i can take cuttings or suckers if i want. I hope the free landscaping plants feel like a fair trade to my parents' for all the help they give us and are still giving us. Of course they have never asked for anything in return, but i hope they are as happy to have the plants as i was happy to provide something-anything to show my thanks.
This picture shows the Yew and a burning bush and i think maybe the French lilac.
One of the pines we had to cut down is in the pit and you can see a couple green plants down there with the apple trees.... i think one is a holly and the other might be the other pune tree that we cut down. You can see to the far left of the picture, yet another Box Elder that had to be removed. Its freshly-cut stump is a cream colored speck. That tree was growing right into their roof and the roots were into the basement, i'm surprised it didn't collapse the house.
More dirt pushing. What would we do without my dad and his John Deere?
Hubby is leaning on the stack of fence panels that he spent all summer painting one by one. Something like 30 of them all counted.
Dad was trying to bury the platform that held the black oil tank that had belonged to the burned house. It was a very large concrete slab with rebar sticking out all over. It took a lot of digging and shoving, but it got put under eventually!
They had also removed the huge flowering quince, so the hole it left was good for burying the slab.
Between scraping down the edges and the big rocks, most of the pit was filled. One thing good about all the rain we got this spring and summer was that it compacted the soil and collapsed any subterranean voids, so we should not end up with little sinkholes all over the place in the future.
We need a break from all the brown.... These are my nice spring flowers. The roses aren't awake yet, but right now everything else looks happy.
The old shed came with the yard. Hubby had gone inside, put his hands on the roof and turned it around to face this direction, so we used it for the snow blower last winter. But that was its last gasp because it was so rickety we decided to just discard it. I was disappointed that we couldn't use it more, but it really was in bad shape, all the seams were loose and the corners were bowing in.
One of the survey pins. Shows how far over the property line that fence is.
Some of the lilacs that we dug up and saved.
When the not-so-nice neighbors put the fence on the former owner's property, they plunked it down right in the middle of some of her lilacs. There was yet another Box Elder tree growing in that cluster and it was such a mess that we had to forget this bunch of lilacs and cut it all down. I didn't really want to, but it was going to be too hard to get the lilacs out and we already had dug up and saved so many, it wasn't so bad.
The Surveyor stake, the milk can and the stone monument...
Its not the best angle, but you can see the stone monument that is within our property line. The line goes at an angle off to the right, the other surveyor stake is past the swing set all the way back. It is just about in line with where the closest leg of the swing set is in the ground.
Digging up some lilacs.
We were careful to not dig too far over and get into their side. I don't know what is up with that storm window against their house. Hoping we'd break it so they could accuse us of vandalism? Haha. It didn't move an inch, and as far as i know, its still there to this day!
Into the truck ya go! Off to wide open spaces and sweeter soil!
Moving the Burning Bush. I took lots of pictures because where we were so close to their house, i didn't want any accusations of how we damaged anything, so i documented exactly where and how we dug and maneuvered. Everything!
But it makes a pretty cool pictorial sequence, and i omitted a lot of them.
Then the trouble began...
When we tried to move the tree hydrangea in the photo below.
This tree was planted by the mother of the person we bought the yard from. But as soon as we moved it, the not-so-nice neighbors began to have a fit. Police were called, etc. We showed the police the survey map, nsn-neighbors tried to justify themselves by making up a story about how we hired a bunch of different surveyors until we found one that gave us the property lines we wanted and a whole bunch of really pathetic inventions. It was quite sad, really.
As anyone who knows understands, that is not how surveying works!
The officer looked at the survey map and basically said "carry on".... and so we did. But i didn't snap any more photos until the nsn-neighbors left because i didn't know if that would provoke anything and we really were trying to be decent.
But this picture (showing the survey line and the hydrangea on the left) is worth the proverbial 1,000 words.
The hydrangea's new home.
This is the first hole for the first post for the fence....!
We didn't really intend it to look like this... but it has a sort of "Talk to the hand!" effect.... i think hubby and my dad kind of liked that impression. They were the ones that bore the nsn-neighbors' verbal assault.
So, there is the first corner.
We also moved that Rose of Sharon tree up to the front. It had been in the way back in the shade and i don't think it had flowered much cause i never noticed it at all. Justin is setting paver bricks along the bottom of the fence to see if we can keep weeds from growing too much there and becoming a real pain.
The tree hydrangea looks quite happy there.
A much improved view.
We had some dirt delivered, i think 3 dump truck-loads. So dad came and spread it out in the areas where all the plants we wanted to move had been.
There are still a ton of lilacs in this picture- that's the big shrubby stuff over to the left a way.
The posts on the left were painted by hubby and he dunked them in driveway sealer to see if it would help keep the wood preserved a little longer..Its pressure treated, but he was hoping for an extra measure, at least to keep us from having to do any digging over the fence in the near future!
Lilacs.... here today.....
Well, this pic is from like 2 weeks later and the lilacs are still there.... but they are waaaay back. We asked the nice neighbors if they wanted them and they said they would like them, so we moved them down the slope.
Then my dad and hubby built the retaining wall. My dad had felled a few old pines in his back yard, and he stripped them of branches. That is what they used to build the wall.
I didn't get to take any pictures since the baby was being rather fussy and i couldn't get her to nap so i could make my escape...
By the time i got out to take pics, they were mostly done.
We'd had a few more loads of dirt delivered, and my dad trucked in a few piles of the town's recycle compost. They got that all the sand spread out before the day was over.
This is the retaining wall. I think its about 3' high... It had to be done so we didn't have such a sharp grade from the front yard to the back yard. The front turned out pretty level on its own, but about halfway to the back and where the properties met (old and new) was a pretty sharp drop that was more on the new side than on the old, water would rush down and was causing a slow erosion.
A few days before my dad went off to work on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, he came over and helped my hubby finish the main part of the remaining fences.
Since we had nsn-neighbor issues and they never bothered to remobe the fence, we weren't sure what to expect, so i was out there, camera ready to show that we were attempting to be as non-invasive as humanly possible.
We carefully re-strung the lines, once again. (The nsn-neighbors cut it down every time we had one up so we had to re-do it each time.)
I'm glad they had the auger, there were so many rocks in the ground, it would have taken them hours to dig each hole with just the post-hole digger.
I took pictures of each panel of their fence in case any questions arose about whether we were being careful. I guess technically, the fence belonged to us since our "please remove" letter was ignored. I think they consider it abandoned material. But i guess hubby had some civil discussion with them and we agreed to stack the fence pieces in their yard so they could close off the back of their yard with it. So, anyway, we were careful. Dad pulled their posts by wrapping them with chain and using the bucket of his tractor to pull them up.
We did bust one post, it split when it came up, but we replaced it with an extra unpainted post that we had.
I don't know what we can do with these apples, we propped them so i hope they make it through winter. Next spring i can see if they make it then figure out how to treat them.
There is a gap in the fence all the way to the back corner. We will have to put a panel down to size and fit it in, but the main part is finished. We plan to close off the back part with the tall fence panels all the way across.
For the side where the nicer neighbors are, we plan on only doing a 4 foot fence. It will be the same height as we had before, but it won't be white pickets. It will have to match the stockade fence, so it will be painted the same color. But they do say that good fences make good neighbors, and i think it will simply neaten the look of our place up. It looks kinda funny right now, all half fenced in.
Ok, thats it so far!