The exterior work begins.

Today's efforts heralded the beginning of 'Spring 2001 Exterior Overhaul[tm].' Otherwise known as a bit of back-breaking effort on my part to greatly improve the exterior of this house. Most of this effort involves the complete reworking of the current flowerbeds, which are in horrendous shape due to some misguided choices by the previous owners.

Curious? Take a look at the House Saga, which has pictures, albeit mostly of the interior work I've done over the past year. It details what I've got coming up, which generally consists of shoveling several inches of bark and white rocks out of the flowerbeds, taking care not to hurt the current plant life.Then, once we're ready to do more work, things get into high gear. When we've got about twelve hours of good daylight weather, I'll have to get busy. I'll need to take the old plants out, being a bit more careful with the ones I'll want to save. Then I'll do a last, thorough raking of the beds to remove the last rocks, ensuring a smooth and tillable surface. Then I'll be purchasing and tilling in a large amount of compost into the beds, and replanting the keeper plants into their new places. Next up will be to add the new plants we purchased in Atlanta this past weekend.

Kat helped me start shoveling rocks out of the beds today. It is unpleasantly arduous work; at the end of the day your back is tired and your hands are sore, and after walking away it seems that you didn't get nearly as much done as it felt like you did while you were actually working.

Though, truthfully, I know we got a lot done this afternoon. I'd say around a third of the larger bed—I'm just going to concentrate on getting this one bed done for starters. We had to work carefully, as I found another couple of fire ant mounds (sigh) that need treating before we can work in those areas. I am loathe to receive stings from such nasty little critters.

Speaking of nasty critters, I dread trying to remove the holly bushes. This is going to be awful, awful work. I dread it, but I know there is simply no other way to get this done; the holly bushes have to go. I have visions of cutting out what roots we can and then hitching a rope between the offending bush and our truck…and gunning the truck.

But that's wishful thinking. Knowing my luck I'd rip off the back bumper of the truck or pull the house down. Best to leave that sort of thing to paid professionals, I suppose!

I just keep repeating to myself, "This has to be done." This is the least enjoyable part of the entire exterior renovation process, but I know that once all this is over I will look back and thank myself for taking the extra time and effort ( ! ) to do this right the first time.

Kat also helped me prune our existing three crepe myrtles today. They look distinctly more treelike now; they were incredibly shaggy and in need of a smart trim. The Morrills gave us a few baby crepe myrtles to plant, and I've taken the biggest of them and planted it on the northeast corner of our property, where we have a small gully trying to form. One of our existing crepe myrtles is there, and is doing well to anchor part of the soil down; I think adding the other will do wonders toward keeping this potential problem in check.

Don't know where I'm going to put the other baby crepes, exactly. Jeff has asked me to put edging around them, to aid in mowing; thus I'm trying to plan out appropriate places for the crepes that will be accommodating for little flowerbeds. If I can, I'd like to get the other crepes all set in the ground early tomorrow; we're scheduled for a lot of rain in the next few days and the new plantings would benefit from a good watering-in.

It will come together. I know it will. I don't know how, though. I'm probably going to drag a chair outside tomorrow to just sit a while and sketch. I need to envision these plants fully mature, so that I can plan their plantings appropriately. I don't want to make any preventable mistakes.

But for now, my karmic duty dictates that I shall go provide a particularly insistent orange-and-cream cat the scritching and petting he feels that he so richly deserves. Then sleep—the sleep of someone who has had a long, tiring day and knows that she will have another on the morrow.

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