Sunday, October 21, 2007

Men vs. Bamboo

Yard Day 1

I've owned the house for about 6 months now. Which means I missed my original completion guesstimate date of 6 months. It also means that my house insurance policy was up for renewal, due to the nature of the policy one has to have for a vacant, renovation-in-progress house. My insurance people decided that I needed to cut back the overgrowth of greenery on the sides and back of the house, clearing space and getting the branches off the roof before the renewal can take place. I agree with this assessment, I just wish he would have told me about it when *he* found out about it, instead of letting the papers sit on his desk for half a month, then casually letting me know less than two weeks before the policy was to expire/is up for renewal. Also interesting, he waited until he already had the check for the continuation of my policy coverage to tell me these things... but I digress.

You'll notice that this is Yard Day 1. Yard Day 2 isn't in the plans for a while yet, I hope, since I'm trying to focus my attention on the INSIDE of the house. But regardless of the circumstances, yesterday was Yard Day 1. My friend, my father, my two brothers and I worked for about 3 or 4 hours, with the help of a chain saw.

I looked in my picture archives for these next few photos, to remind us all of what the front of the house looked like, or rather, what you could see... Look in particular to the left side of the picture, how dark and shadowy the side of the house is. And the low-hanging branch swooping down at the front of the house.

This picture is along the side of the house, from when I stacked brick from the fireplace. This area seems clear ground-wise, but let me assure you, that bamboo is thick, packed in densely, and acts as a wall against sunlight and the environment.

Yard Day 1

Anyone know how to kill bamboo? We didn't. Instead of cutting back the bamboo, we decided to cut it down, as close to the ground as possible. Here's one of the clumps of the roots. Look how close together and big they are. This bamboo lived here happily for a while.

The front of the house, side angle, towards the side we were working on. I forgot my camera when we first started working this day, but got it about halfway through. Notice how easily you can see the neighbor's roof line and side of her house. Also the low-hanging branch was trimmed back as much as we could. The pile of greenery accumulating on the front yard is from everything we're cutting down on the side.

This is from the other side of the house. Not much grows on the side, but if you remember correctly, there was limited, almost impossible access to the back yard. Here's the gate...

At the gate, this is the view directly in front of your face. These are the vine covered bushes and shrubs blocking the way.

At the gate, hanging over and looking to my left. See the big tree top that sits right in my backyard? Over this way too is the back porch... Maybe we'll actually be able to see it later.

Back at the front of the house, you see my friend at the front porch post. This looks back down the side of the house. See the stack of bricks? Those are from the fireplace. And you can see my father working with the chainsaw; he's actually standing my neighbor's yard, which is about a 4 or 5 foot drop from mine.

Here's a shot from the street of the front of the house, with the side cleared some and the branches over head cut back. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? At least like someone loves it and is trying to make it better...

This is in my neighbor's yard. We started clearing a little beyond her parked car. This is her driveway and it was early-ish and we didn't want to start the chainsaws too early... Later she moved her car for us and we tackled this part, too. Note to everyone: chainsaws are much quicker than clippers or snippers. But only use them if you know what you're doing. We let my father do all the chainsaw work, since he's experienced with it.

In neighbor's yard again, past where her car is parked. You can see the cleared areas we were working on up to this point, as well as some of the bamboo shoots lying on the ground, ready to be pulled to the front. Most of those shoots were 20 or 30 feet long.

Further down the side of the house and we get to the back... but wait! What's that? There on the end of the house... Are those screens? Is it? Could it be? The mythical and much talked about screened-in porch? We'll explore that more later...

In neighbor's yard again. A shot from the back of the house towards the front. I'd never seen this side of the house before... and it hadn't seen daylight in a long, long time.

The culprits... Bamboo. The shoots were mainly centered in clumps, but they totally spread. It may look innocent and sweet to you now, but you try fighting them. It's not exactly fun. Good thing is was such a nice day outside that day.

Another clump. I think there are about 3 or 4 of these along the side of the house. But they kind of spread out between themselves and eventually covered the whole side yard.

Me, on my tiptoes, holding the camera above my head at the back of the house. What do we have? Screen porchage! Yay! I told you it was there...

After a little more time elapsed, I took more pictures. It's progress.

The problem with renting a dumpster for your work site is that inevitably someone is going to throw stuff away in it. Meaning, someone other than the person who is actually renting the dumpster and paying to have it emptied. Now small things, I honestly don't mind. And a few people have actually asked me permission, which was even better. But when you're throwing away wooden pallets and large, bulky, obviously building materials from the HABITAT FOR HUMANITY house down the street that's being rebuilt since the tornado, I have an issue with that. People, think before you dump trash in someone else's dumpster. Because someone has to pay for it, and as a result, I couldn't fit all of MY own trash in the dumpster.

Seen here are the boys, my little brothers, resting after hopping around in the dumpster on top of the bamboo and yard debris, compacting it in and effort to make more room.

A larger shot of the dumpster. I don't know how many times they had to get in it. Eventually we gave up and I had to pile all the excess bamboo shoots in the front yard, which eventually spilled over onto the sidewalk. I couldn't help it. It'll just have to wait until I can have the dumpster dumped and brought back.

Standing on the front porch, looking down the side of my house, towards my neighbor.

Standing in neighbor's yard, looking at the side of my house after much of what had been cut had been moved to the front yard.

View from the sidewalk looking up at the house. This is quite a large mound of bamboo, wouldn't you agree?

Front porch view, looking down at neighbor's yard where her car was parked earlier. See how much we cleared? The mound you see is just the bamboo piled in the front yard.

Here's a better view of what we did here, where her car was. It looks a lot different, doesn't it?

Back in the backyard, where my father went with the chainsaw after we finished in the front and side. It's a mess but at least you can get back here to see the mess, now.

Standing in the back yard, looking at the back of the house! Hardly a view I've seen often. And look! The porch!

Nasty top of a tree from the neighbor's yard... it's been here for a while. and the back porch!

The porch. On the left side, you see the 'boarded up' part; it's where the bathroom was built.

Stacks of trash on the back porch. Fun. Anyone need a chair or three and an old electric organ?

Ahh, the water heaters, here you hide. Don't overlook the mini-me water heater in the background. It's like they're playing hide and seek.

On the porch, looking at the exterior of the bathroom. Great construction job, eh?

And the #1 reason why I'm having the house re-wired. Just one of many examples of how this house is rigged. And this is stuff one can see, openly. Just think of what might be hiding! The horror!

Who doesn't want an old stove, a mattress, and two or three ancient hot water heaters in their back yard as ornaments? Jealous, aren't you?

Standing at the back porch doorway, looking out into the back mess. I mean, back yard. But hey, at least I can get here to stand, now. This view is new to me.

Back at the front of the house, looking towards the back. My father's down there, working with the chainsaw near the back porch. By now we've cleaned up the side yard from everything we cut down.

Daddy working, trying to clear a path from this side of the house to the back yard, too. We didn't make it that far.

The view out from the same spot earlier, towards the front of the house. Wow! What a difference!

And let's not forget the tree we found hiding amongst the bamboo. We decided to try to save it. Hopefully it will truly grow since it has room to breathe.

Like this tree, I think I'm giving my house the potential to grow again. The inside had been neglected and patched over, the outside was left to the wilderness... But in one day, about 4 hours, five guys were able to fight back and try to reclaim her. And look at what we were able to accomplish. Hopefully, with a little more love, the tree will grow and blossom just as I wish the house to glow and smile again.