Neverending Saga: Spring Cleaning in the Fall

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Nov 30, 2002
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As the great remodel of the old mountain home continues to creep forward ever so slowly, I was happy to finally get my fall decorations on exhibit inside and out. My usual “massive” porch fall display however was at a minimum this year to my disgust. Because Mr. Retirement said “No nails, no staple guns, no hooks, no screws” on our brand spanking new porch, I wasn’t able to do a bunch of Halloween lighting. Instead I made do with a very skimpy row of pumpkin lights and one lonely row of orange lights wrapped around said new porch to adorn the hay, pumpkins and scarecrows. “But it’s only a porch for Pete’s sakes, not the Stairway to the Stars!” Gee whiz what’s a few dozen nails going to do, sink it? Ho hum. Three of the pumpkins were fake and they light up so I guess that could be counted as almost sufficient. No sense getting the porch-maker extraordinaire’s panties in a bundle so I took myself into the house to pout for about a minute and then got over myself.

As I said, this entire house re-model is barely creeping along and I’m trying to remain positive and composed and grumble in silence about the chaos in the house. To add to it, the washing machine and the dishwasher both croaked in the same week which I needed like an addition to my other holes in my head so we are still waiting on parts to come in for Mr. Retirement to fix them. Mr. Retirement also decided to add gutters to our gutterless house, get this: on the side of the house that gets rain. Huh? He’s messing with my mind again. My German Shepherd Amy, is getting much better about her fear of noise caused from all the power tools but there are still times she’s like a dog on crack. She has some new toys to keep herself busy which helps keep her distracted from the noise.

It was a very pretty fall day when I went outside to have a mental tidy and mull things over about the mess at hand and other things. I began thinking about winter a lot. During winter, after the holidays, things get plain old ugly. The first snow is pretty of course, but then it turns dirty and the sky is always grey. As I travel along the roads, all that will be left of the scenery is a lot of dead trees and brownish mushy ground where the pretty green grass used to grow so sweetly. There will be no color left, except the white of snow when you get some, but other wise, in winter, there’s nothing really pretty out there to enjoy. Our place outside will look really run down, so I got to thinking about why not do my outside spring chores in the fall this year? This way, when I look out the window on a freezing cold day, I won’t have a yard that needs a ton of work in the spring. If I do some spring chores now, spring cleaning will be a piece of cake. At least, this is my theory. This winter, when I look outside, even on a dark and dismal day, I’m going to see things looking clean and fresh. And oh yes, with the best screwless front porch on the road.

Washing the white vinyl fence was first on my agenda and what a pain it was. Every year I light up the entire fence for Christmas, using colored lights with white wire of course. So why would I light up a fence that is dirty sporting moldy places and some kind of pukey looking moss? The time to clean it was now and it took forever. Next up was painting all my white picket gates. Unlike normal people who have normal pasture gates I have to do cutesy things and build picket gates. That’s because they are not only cute as can be but safe and serviceable too. No one has ever escaped or gotten caught or stuck in my gates, and if they do, they’ll break the wood before they can severely hurt themselves. They are a real pain to paint however but I do the cheater method because when I miss painting places in between the sides which are so hard to get to, I just touch it up with my trusty can of white spray paint. I then gave all the hinges a new shiny coat of black gloss. As far as gate latches, I don’t have any. I hate gate latches; they freeze, they get stuck, I always jam my fingers in them and they are annoying so I never put any on my gates. Instead I use a bungee and a lead rope that I tie in three knots; black of course to match the hinges on the gate.

The barn hadn’t been painted in about 4 years so it was time. And let me tell you that if anyone says you cannot use paint that has been frozen, they are wrong. I just so happened to have a 5 gallon container of left over paint in the garage for the past 4 years that obviously froze and melted year after year. It was all clumpy and bumpy with a big skin on the top so I took it to the hardware store and had them shake it up for me in their little paint shaker machine and it was as good as new. How about those bananas? I began to paint the outside on one Saturday morning in October but after a couple of hours I was covered in paint from head to toe so I decided to take a break to have some fun and decorate my Rover for Halloween. I decorate my Rover for every holiday and people are used to seeing me ride around the neighborhood with Amy in the passenger seat like that. I shoved a bale of hay in the back of the dump bed and fixed up a giant ghost and a witch that were 3 feet tall on top of them which made them look about 6 feet tall. I added a pumpkin wind sock, giant spider and it was all good. What a sight!

As I proceeded to paint the outside of the concrete barn I heard a P.A. system so darn loud I thought it was coming from the antique car show that is held here each year. I couldn’t make out exactly what was being said and then it turned into some really loud carrying on. I wanted to go and do a quick drive-by scan so I loaded up Amy in the Rover and headed down the road. Big mistake. Huge. I was directed off the road with the rest of the traffic into the pasture next to the church parking lot. Nope, no car show at all. Instead, I found myself in the midst of a religious healing. Dang. Here I am with my dog driving around the place in my Rover dressed in my worst tattered work clothing covered with white paint, complete with flying pumpkin, giant spider on my bumper, toting a huge witch and ghost on a bale of hay. Terrific. I’ll bet some people thought now there’s a lunatic that needs some help. It’s a wonder someone didn’t stop me and tell me “Voodoo is over yonder on the next mountain range.” Ugh. The P.A. is busting out our eardrums. There’s singing and praying and a band that kicked in doing “I’ll Fly Away” and I’m so embarrassed that I’m in the thick of it all. I begged Amy to please don’t start howling because she will do that when she hears loud music and that’s all I’d need. I knew I’d have to drive myself out of there inconspicuously and how he heck do I do that? So here’s me, weaving in and out of a hundred or so parked vehicles and people on horse back and I’m going less then 1 mph riding the brake and hoping I don’t run over anyone that’s been healed because there are a lot of people on blankets lying all over the ground. I thought I would die. Some neighborhood friends approached us to stay and pointed out the location of the food table which was hard to pass up, but under the circumstances I declined. You just don’t go to a church thing looking like this! I finally found a clear path where I could scram and make it back onto the road and go back home to paint and away we went. I picked up the paint roller and got a nice fresh coat of paint on the barn that day while being serenaded compliments of the church band. Apparently they didn’t know too many songs because I swear I heard “I’ll Fly Away” at least one hundred and ten times until I went to sleep that night with that tune still going on in my head. I ended up having to put two coats of paint on the barn that weekend because darn that concrete is hard to paint, but now I look at it and it’s so nice and bright and cheery. The barn doors followed with a two coats of white paint trimmed in green, but this time it was to the tune of my oldies channel on the barn radio.

After that the weather turned nasty and chilly and it rained on and off for a few days so I concentrated in fixing up Dan’s empty bedroom into a craft room for myself. Mr. Retirement struggled with the addition of installing more new windows and demonstrated the senior citizen version kick boxing at the vinyl siding trying to make it fit back knowing it cannot be re-used. Meanwhile, I was in crafting heaven because now I had a place all for me to create my greeting cards. This gave me time to start creating my Thanksgiving cards and boy was I happy to get my hands out of paint for a while. No more having to spread my craft supplies all over my desk and the kitchen table. I’m elated.

After the weather became warmer, I returned back outside this time to paint the inside walls of the barn which were terrible. There is nothing worse than a horse who backs up and poops up against concrete walls. Merry Beth foaled practically standing up almost the whole time and got this projectile after-something dribbled down all over the walls which was just plain nasty and nearly impossible to get off. Without a doubt, the walls on that foaling stall were looking like a conversation piece that only Stephen King would appreciate. I spent the first day scraping and scrubbing down each stall and the paint went on the second day fast and easy. One coat did it all and I used less than two gallons on the entire interior. The next horse that poops on my walls is going to have one serious time out on the naughty chair. Can you tell by now I love, love, love the difference paint makes? Somewhere in the middle of all this I cleaned up and organized my tack room yet again. Would you believe that I have one entire cabinet in there that is designated only for all my scrunchies, ribbons and bows for my little ones? Believe it. I washed all my field halters and lead ropes and brushes and all three of my grooming boxes. I never could figure out why anyone would want to brush a horse with a dirty bunch of brushes. Besides my concerns for their grooming and ribbon needs, everyone in the barn got their teeth done by the dentist and I hit on a sale of wormers at Jeffers so I’m stocked up on that. I’ll get the last load of my winter hay hopefully next week and I have a farrier appointment set right before Thanksgiving. I got two new designer halters from CMHR and I hope to get more soon as I can. All my horses will be ready to enter the winter fully prepared looking and feeling their best.

Most of the dead weeds were hand pulled from out of the fence line and I trimmed back the branches in the orchard and pruned all the other shrubbery and the hedges in front of that darned new porch. The manure pile has been stacked up with the tractor and is ready to be hauled off. We spread some new gravel in the paths where I’ll be walking in the barnyard so with any luck, I won’t slip in the mud this winter and break myself. All in all I think that this winter when things turn ugly, my place won’t look so sad and my spring clean up will be to a minimum. Like I said, that’s the theory, but come springtime I might be right back here complaining about all the things I have to do.

Happy Fall!

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