Sunday, April 10, 2016

Step One - Nesting

Most of us spend a lifetime thinking about retirement.  The magical golden years when we can do as we please.  I officially became a retiree on Oct. 1.  I spent the next six weeks or so traveling in Thailand and Vietnam.  I confess, at that point it was less about the travel and more about killing time to let my house sitters in Florida find a new place to live.

Once I was home, it felt like my annual once a year vacation at home.  Seeing friends, eating foods I'd craved and just hanging out.

Next came the nesting stage.  It's been a very long time since I've been home for long periods.  Since moving to Florida in 1994 I spent the majority of my time traveling.  Mostly for work but when not working I felt obliged to keep in touch with my friends at Delta.  Now that I was home "for good" I wanted to get things fixed up just the way I liked them.  Or the way my budget allowed.

Step one was landscaping.  Where my house stands used to be an orange grove.  Before that, it was a jungle.  Things grow quickly and it doesn't take long to get out of control.   People living in my house in my absence didn't want to spend the time or money to get it under control and when given a choice of spending money on landscaping that I saw 2 weeks a year or on a new trip, the travel won every time. 

Trimming palm trees and hacking back shrubs was easy for me.  It just involve writing a check. Since it was a small check, no problem.   Not so easy for the kid on the very tall ladder, chain saw in hand, when a rat jumped out of the palm tree and onto his face.  He didn't drop the chain saw or fall.  He was annoyed that his partners and I were laughing so hard.  The rat escaped without harm.

The next step involved sweat equity on my part.  My backyard is very small and is mostly filled with a pool and small deck.  Three feet behind the pool enclosure (to keep out insects) is a wall that borders the entire subdivision.  Mine used to be covered in a beautiful Jasmine vine.  It looked lush and gorgeous and smelled amazing in bloom.  It also was the home of a turf war between birds and snakes.  The birds nested there and laid eggs.  The snakes came and ate the eggs.  The birds attacked the snakes.  The snakes found a way to get into the pool enclosure.  Because they were either clumsy or suicidal, they fell in the pool.  I had no desire to keep finding six foot long snakes in my pool.  I didn't care if people swore they were harmless.  I was not willing to share my pool with them.  So I had the vines ripped out.

The vines had done a job on the wall, though and it needed to be fixed up.  I borrowed a friend's power washer, bought paint and the necessary tools and started cleaning and sweating.  The result was worth it.
The wall behind the pool before being power washed and repainted.
The wall after it was painted.
The good news about Florida lawns is that even if you don't actually have a lawn, you have weeds.  If you mow them, it kinda looks like a green lawn.  From a distance.  But since I now was living here,  I wanted the yard back the way it looked when I was regularly awarded the "Yard of the Month" sign by my Homeowners' Association.

Getting new sod and mulch didn't involve sweat on my part but was a bit painful when I had to write the check. 
The front yard before the new sod.
And after...

Sod, mulch and landscape blocks.
That was phase one of nesting.  Once the outside was done, I moved on to the inside.  Check that out in the next post.

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