#261–Frenzied Fall Fixups . . .


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It is fall. It is October. There are only a few days left before the rains begin. Listen. You can hear blowers cleaning off roofs and cleaning out roof drains. You can hear chain saws and other kinds of saws as well as drills too. You can hear the clank of metal ladders being moved around houses up the hill and down the road. All this frenzied activity is to get as much done as possible before the rains begin.

I live in a wooded area with a number of tall trees in my yard. After the wind storms of the first three weeks of September, every inch of my yard in the front and on the east side were covered with tree debris especially around the redwood as well as the driveway. I got the driveway cleaned up, but the rest had to wait. There were a couple of wet weeks, which really helped the firefighters throughout the state.

The front door is very sheltered, but the steps showed lots of wear as did the porch before I re-stained them.

Once the weather improved, I spent most of a week cleaning up the yard. I had three large tarp loads of branches that I had picked up. I drug each load over to my upper debris area. Too heavy to lift. Then I raked about 25 piles in the front and the same amount on the east slope. I was able to load about three piles at a time into a carrier that I carried to the debris areas.

The yard work took place last week. This week, I concentrated on using my paintbrush. On Sunday, I stepped out of the front door and stained the porch and steps leading up to the house. They get a lot of wear and need to be done every few years.  With the front door blocked off by wet stain, I wisely left a sliding glass door off the dining room unlocked, so I could get back in. Once long ago, I didn’t. Lesson learned. I roped off the steps and put up a “wet paint” sign.

I got out my “classic burgundy” this is the color of doors to the garage and basement, the gates and fencing on both sides of the house, and the mailbox post. They all needed a new coat. And I wanted to stain the posts and railings that were put in on the east slope and down below two years ago. They were still raw wood. I have asked Todd, my yard man, to clean and then re-stain the fences and gates. I just don’t think I’ll have the time.

The garage side door looks much better.

On Monday. I taped around the window in the garage door on both sides. The front side was already red, so it covered beautifully. But the back side will need a second coat because it had been tan. Since the brightness from the window partially blinded me to seeing what I was painting on the inside, I will do the second coat in the evening soon. I also handwashed the curtain. It dried overnight and I was able to put it back up the next morning. The whole door looked so much better.

After lunch I scrubbed the mailbox, which really needed it. Then I had to trim away some of the salal before painting the post. It too looks better.

While I was working on the mailbox, Todd came by. He took his blower and climbed up on the roof to blow it off and clean out the drains. This would be the first time to blow off my new roof, but, boy of boy, the wind was incredible for hours Labor Day night and into the next day. That was the same east wind that propelled those destructive fires.  No fires here, just lots of tree debris everywhere including the roof and drains. Todd spent a lot of time up there. Later he blew off all the gravel areas. It looks much better.

Looks almost brand new!

Meanwhile I moved around to the eastside to paint the upper railing. It is a fairly steep slope. I did fine on the railings and on three sides of the posts. Doing the backsides of the posts I was no longer on the steps and had to really work to keep my balance. Twice I had to dodge stuff flying my way from the blower on the roof. Finally, Todd saw me and apologized. I also had to remove debris from where I had just painted.

On Tuesday, I had errands in town in the morning. So didn’t get started until after lunch. I grabbed my “classic burgundy” and paintbrush and headed for the lower, longer railing. It is not quite as steep, but I still had to be careful doing the backsides of the posts. Then I gave the upper railing a second coat. The second coat made such a difference. I love it. The longer railing will need a second coat also. Hope the weather holds.

Dang! Wednesday had drippy, close-in fog. Yuck! Couldn’t stain railings, so I worked on the front door. It’s sheltered from the drippy weather. But first, I had to go into town to get more “classic burgundy” and more clear gloss lacquer. I had ordered them days earlier.

Upper railing is shorter but steeper. In the background some of the gates and fencing that also need to be cleaned and re-stained. I depend on both the upper and lower railings to get down below.

It had been five years, since I last worked on the front door. So I did a fair amount of sanding, which meant, I had a lot of grit to clean off. Then I had to touch up with walnut rubbing stain. After that, I took a break for lunch before applying the lacquer. It is sooooo hard to keep it from running down corners and to keep whole sections from sagging. It’s best to do the door flat.

Back in 2009, I had a replacement front door for a week, while I put the actual front door on a table in the garage under great light. Then I took a rotary sander and got all but the inner sections sanded down to bare wood. I had never used a rotary sander before and learned (the hard way) to never pause with it still running. If you look closely, the door no longer looks like it came from a factory. There are dips and such that give it an artisan quality. At least, that’s what I call it.

The lower railing is longer but less steep and needs a second coat. These four tiers of flowerbeds of perennials are mostly ready for winter. I have the top row to do and to prune back the llithodora on the third tier that needs pruning at least twice a year.

I then cleaned it really well and re-stained it. Then I got up early one morning and applied a coat of lacquer before breakfast. Let it wait two hours. Then applied a second coat and waited two hours and then applied a third.  When the door is flat, the lacquer doesn’t run. It is sooooo much easier. And the door was gorgeous! In a few years, I’ll try the replacement plan again.

I had to leave the front door open part way for the door to dry without sticking, and I have a cat that I do not let out. So I put everything I could easily find to prop it open and not allow Groucho to get out. It looked crazy, it looked jury-rigged, but it worked.

This oddball collection of stuff kept the door partially open so it could dry without sticking and kept Groucho inside.

Thursday was another drippy, close-in foggy day. I was able to paint the door to the basement because it is under the upper deck and protected. I had cleaned it thoroughly a few days before. It looks so much better. The gravel gets rained on and splatters all over it, making it look terrible. So this morning while at Freddies grocery shopping, I bought a large enough welcome mat to put in front, so the rain won’t spatter it. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it works.

Then I took the brush I used on the front door out of its plastic bag where I had it sealed to keep it from drying out. Because it was too wet to go outside, I did an indoor painting job that I’d been meaning to do for months. I spread lots of newspapers and then sanded lightly, cleaned, and then gave a second coat to the wooden trim in the kitchen/dining room counter and both bathrooms. Because it was three different places, it took some time. I had to move furniture and put up barriers to keep Groucho off the countertops in the bedroom and kitchen.

Back in June, I hired a friend who is good with wood, to refurbish all this wood trim. After 38 years of wear, it looked awful. He sanded and re-stained and put a coat of lacquer on all of it. Then he said that I could put on a second coat whenever I wanted. The only problem was that he used semi-gloss, and I used gloss. I didn’t even realize it until I was half through with the kitchen and wondered why it was so much shinier. Duh! Actually, I like it better in all three areas.

The door to the basement has a fresh coat of stain plus a new mat to keep the rain from hitting the gravel and spattering it.

The drippiness had stopped, but it was too wet and too late to do any staining. So I went outside and weeded and pruned until dark. I also want to get those chores done down below before the rains hit. Basically, I cleaned up the beds and prepared the perennials for winter. And I’m about half done.

So I’m thoroughly caught up in the annual ritual of frenzied fall fixups, and I’m loving getting things done, of crossing things off my list.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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