The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

A Pickaxe, A Shovel, Some Dirt and Bricks – Can’t Wait!

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Since moving into this “new” old house six years ago, Nat and I have managed to do quite a bit of fixing up. (I must admit it feels a lot longer that six years!!). We’ve managed to -cut down a huge poplar tree – gut and redo the god-awful bathroom – install and upgrade a new sump pump – install a larger back patio/deck with new patio doors – all new thermal windows installed – and installed solar panels on the back roof. It’s been a slow, sometimes painful and costly expense but well worth every dime. With each new improvement this house is becoming more and more our “own” home and we’re reaping the benefits. BUT, we’re still not finished.

After sitting down and discussing our next project we’ve come to a decision. The two finalists in the discussion were a new kitchen or new front walkway and step. So far I’ve been able to work with the old kitchen despite the fact I absolutely despise the cabinets, the flooring and the corner sink. After purchasing a new rectangular table with butcher block top, Nat painting the chairs white to match and a few little decorative touches here and there, I told Nat I can live with the kitchen the way it is for another year or two, and that we should proceed with the front yard landscaping. We’ve both been worried about the large pool of water that gathers around the drain pipe and door to the garage every time it rains. Plus anyone parked in the driveway I’m sure has to look for the walkway to the front door. It’s small, unattractive and boring.

With recommendations from our contractor, Simon, we went ahead and called a landscaper for a quote. He arrived this morning and seems like a really nice young lad with a lot of good ideas. He showed us some of his work as Nat took him around the front to explain what we’d like to have done. After seeing a few of his sample jobs we decided to go with the interlocking brick for a walkway, make it wider and add a few curves for appeal, along with adding (at long last) a step to the front stoop that takes a ladder to get up onto in order to ring the door bell. We’ve also decided to take out the planter that borders beneath the office window. We’ll have that little “sitting area” included with the interlocking brick. We’re thinking it would look cute with a potted plant, a rod iron chair and table to make it look like an inviting space to “sit-a-spell”.

Mike  (GreenScapes Niagara) came up with a few good ideas himself which we’ll have him include in his quote when its ready. We were both surprised at the cost he quickly quoted – adding a “plus/minus” exception, naturally. It was less than we had (or at least I had) envisioned and am now excited to get it done despite the fact we’ll be leaving the job now for the Spring. We then left Mike to do his measurements and drawings and head home to do up the quote, which we’ll anticipate with some eagerness.

After lunch, Nat and I sat down and discussed our options and we both agree that this project is now a go even though we haven’t received the final quote yet. We’re both very anxious to have it done and will definitely tell Mike to put us at the top of his Spring list of jobs for 2014. This will give Nat and I plenty of time to top up the piggy bank, add some of the solar money that should be rolling in soon and get our ducks all in a row before the job begins. Nat also wants to have the umbrella tree cut down in the front yard and have the poplar tree stump removed , which we should have had done when the tree was being hewed the first time. Our decision, our mistake. We’re going to work on having those two jobs done before the Spring so the new landscaping won’t be disturbed once it laid.

There was a time a couple years back when I was getting frustrated with this house. What needed to be done was daunting and it sounded like we may be putting good money after bad. However, now that the deck is done (which we enjoy almost 7 months a year), the bathroom is complete and the windows don’t weep and sob during the Winter months, Nat and I are enjoying retirement and feel a bit more relaxed. We know the renovations now are decorative and have or will increase the market value of the house. There are still a couple more projects to come – the kitchen and the backyard around the bridge – but we’ll take those one year at a time and as the piggy bank gets topped up. Not to close out 2013 too fast, but Nat and I are very anxious to see the Spring of 2014 arrive. We both know it’s going to start off on the right foot.

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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