Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Good to Have Neighbors

It snowed over Christmas, and then the snow melted a bit and then froze again as ice.

Then it snowed some more, and then we finally became owners of both the mountainside house and all of the house's unshovelled walkways and driveway.

Homeowership: it comes with responsibilities.

For the very first time in our married life we suddenly found ourselves with the need of a snow shovel.

As we prepared to go to the hardware store to scope out the latest in shovel options, I suggested buying two shovels, so I could be able to shovel too.

He said "How about I shovel and you watch?"

I may be a blond but I am not a dumb blond. Without a word of argument I quickly agreed to his suggestion.

He test drove a few shovels at the local hardware store, making sure the shovels didn't pull right or left. Finally he found one that was nicely balanced and had a curvy bent handle.

I wondered out loud about why snow shovels seem to come with various shaped handles and widths. He said he liked the bent handled one.

I don't recall exactly what he said about that style that made him prefer it, but hey, it's his back and not mine that will be engaged with working with the tool. Again...I decided not to argue.

Now before we actually got the keys to the house on New Years Eve, we and our real estate agent had hiked through the foot and a half of snow on our driveway and walkway a few times. Naturally that was before we (he) had a chance to shovel.

He gallantly broke in a trail through the snow for us to follow. Luanne and I both admired him for doing that....

Later that evening more snow fell, more snow melted and refroze on New Years Day, and then finally we were able to acquire the above mentioned snow shovel.

Ever heard the expression "No good deed shall go unpunished"?

B. rapidly discovered the punishment for his gallantry. Each place where Luanne and I had followed in his path clearing footsteps had turned into a deep slab of hard ice.

I took the above picture of B. as he started in on his very first snow shoveling duties at our new house.

Three hours and a bag of chemical ice thaw later, the walk way had mostly been cleared and about a quarter of the driveway. The top six inches of powdery snow was a breeze; the compressed snow turned glacier layer was nearly impossible to move.

After he cleared the walkway he took a break and I admired his work. After just a bit he shouldered up the shovel and headed back out, noting that he wanted to have the driveway cleared so when the construction crew arrived the following day, they would be able to park their equipment close to the house.

About the time he had shoveled and scraped a quarter of the driveway clear, a truck stopped out front, and a guy leaned out the window.

"Hey...listen, my mom lives across the street. She has a snow blower. You want to borrow it?"

Now B. is also blond, but like me, he is not a dumb blond.

It was a no brainer: Yes. I would love to borrow the snow blower. And thank you kindly for offering!

Good neighbor Troy went across the street and returned with the blower, yanked the cord to get it started and....

ta DAH!

Just like that the rope broke.

Well, darn it.

Troy and B. chatted a bit about the neighborhood, then B. once again tackled the snow and ice encased driveway.

The going was slow, but steady. After a bit more of the driveway was cleared, B. joined me inside in front of the fire.

Another truck pulled up to the curb out front. Our contractor Clint hopped out, and walked up our now neatly shoveled walkway. He had saw our car and decided to drop by to see what we were up to.

B. greeted him with the report that he had been shoveling the driveway so the construction crew could easily park when they arrived the next day.

Clint shrugged and as gently as he could, informed us that he had planned to have the crew use their company snow blower to clear the driveway when they arrived.

Just standard operating procedures in these snowy parts.

Oh well. As B. put really was great exercise.

And by the way? Actually he does need a few more shovels to keep our walks neatly and efficiently shoveled. We should consider getting straight handled ones to toss snow, and pusher ones to push snow.

But I don't expect him to be using them much.

I don't expect to be watching B. shoveling much either.

You see, we apparently will be living in a friendly and helpful neighborhood.

The next time we were out at the house Troy's mom popped out the front door and called out to us: "The rope is fixed on the snow blower. You can use it any time you want!"

And we will...or rather B. will, and in return he'll be glad to blow the lady's walkways clear as well as our own.

Won't it be great to be neighborly?

(The first picture in this post shows the house across the street that belongs to Troy's mom June. She is a peach; we have already chatted up a storm, and she has given me all kinds of interesting facts about the history of our neighborhood. In her late 70's, she is one very interesting lady.)

Bonus material:

Fiddling around with ideas for the living room and fireplace. I was thinking of replacing the brass fire doors with a black or copper screen pull curtain. The gas log valve is inside beside the gas log which was nearly impossible to access with the brass doors in place.

Clint suggested just removing the doors, pointing out that the screens or doors are designed mostly to keep falling logs in place. No falling log worries with ceramic off the doors came.

You can see how it looks that way in the picture with B. next to the fire.

I think it looks 100% better without the doors.

I noticed most hotels and resorts don't bother with screens or doors either. I will have to ask about how they deal with keeping wee ones safe; surely if there are safety liability issues they would have already considered it!

I also started fiddling with wanting to see how the flagstone would look if it was washed up.

I rubbed snow on the stones and loved how the stone colors popped out. More snow, more rubbing and I had a view of how the stones would looked if I had them sealed.

I asked Clint about it; he said he had done exactly that with his flagstone fireplace, and really liked how it turned out, and that we should be sure to NOT use a water based sealer, but an oil based one that is available at masonry shops.

Apparently EVERYONE in the area that has a 50's house has a flagstone fireplace...I am not the first to think of this!

Your opinion?

In the picture above, do you prefer the way the wet half looks or the dry half?

Also fiddling with paint colors...peachy shades...

and blue based tan shades.

I used an internet program to see how the room would look with different colors: click here to see the room "re-painted" four different ways. It takes a few moments to load, so be patient.

Way cool!

More voting: which color do you like best?


50s Pam said...

Hi, Jill. I'm really liking that Sherwin Williams Breezy, the blue. It really makes your fireplace pop! Have you seen their Suburban Modern palette - here's a link --

Perhaps of interested if you're really interested in going retro?

Lovella said...

I'm with breezy blue too .. .really any of the last three work for me. . .that last one tatami is really nice too. .
What a great way to select paint colors.
Good job Bernie on getting that driveway plowed. For the record, if we lived a might closer, Terry would come with his tractor.

Vicki said...

When we lived in KY, I was the one who shoveled the walks and drive. I enjoyed it and loved being in the snow, but after many years of doing that, we finally learned why I preferred shoveling: Doc says I have OCD! I always wanted the surfaces cleared just so, and NO ONE was allowed to drive or walk across the surfaces until I had cleared them. Footprints and tire tracks pack down and freeze and are difficult to clear.

The "truepenny" color is really nice, but I like "breezy" better. That's probably because I tend to gravitate toward the cooler colors.

Vicki said...

I went back and looked at the colors again. You might need to return to the drawing board (color wheel) after sealing the fireplace. That could call for a change in hues. Just a thought...

Lin said...

I prefer "Trupenny" but "Breezy" comes in second. Have you thought of a muted green shade? Maybe a sage or something along that line?

I definitely like the wet look of the bricks with any color of painted wall for a background.

I am so glad I am away from the snow. It's nice to look at, but not so nice to shovel..or drive through...or walk through...Now I remember why I wanted to come to Texas so badly.

I'm glad you are enjoying your new place so much. It must be nice to have a weekend getaway and a close to home apartment. Until you let the apartment go, you will have weekly vacations! Way to go, girl!

Anonymous said...

I like the "sealed brick," and I like the color called truepenny the best, with tatami tan a close second. The blue is also pretty; I am just not a fan of blue walls.

Does that fireplace reflect much heat out into the room? Where I live they are useless as a heat source unless there is some kind of box insert. Debbie

Sara said...

I agree with Vicki - seal the fireplace first and then choose the colors. I'm not a personal fan of blue walls...warmer colors are my favorites. Truepenny was my fave, but it might be too dark after you seal the fireplace. Of course, it's difficult to really tell without seeing the whole wall painted.

That's a cool website.

Personally, I like having the frame around the fireplace opening, even if not with doors attached. Again, however, it will look totally different when sealed. And sealed is really lovely, judging by the half and half photo.


PhantomMinuet said...

I wish we would get some snow.

As for the colors, I like True Penny the best, with Travertine a close second.

Dawn said...

The wet side looks better to me.
They all work...since I have no idea what your furniture looks like, I will have to defer to your choice.

The last tan color appeals to me.

Re/the snow:
After our "armstrong" snow removal personnel left the house, we invested in a blower.
This year, I am thankful for it!