So Mother Nature got in on our gift exchange this year. She gave us rain on Christmas day, melting all the snow at the house. We happily parted with hopes for a white Christmas because we hadn't finished the outside work before the first snowfall! The day after Christmas was unusually warm, and we were able to squeeze in one last outdoor clean-up before spring.
Task #1: Cut down two dying trees in the front yard. Four hours working, three men grunting, two saws buzzing, and the partridge lost its pear tree to our new stack of firewood. (In the photo below: Amateur tree removal. Matt's dad wedged his chainsaw into the tree, so Matt had to cut it out with his sawzall, while his dad and my brother did their best to direct the fall of the tree.)
Tasks #2, 3, 4, 5, 6: Raking, raking, raking, raking, raking. Our back patio had not been raked all season. It was a three-layered cake of wet leaves, as was the stone walkway that meanders up the hill in our back yard. Twelve bags of leaves, eleven people raking, ten neighbors watching . . . you get the idea . . .
Inside, my dad and Matt spent the day preparing the walls and ceiling in our master bedroom for painting, which turned out to be much more work than we had anticipated. The alternative was to "laminate" the ceiling with quarter-inch drywall, creating a new, smooth ceiling. They opted to scrape, sand and repair because the radiant heat on that level of the house consists of a maze of copper pipes in the ceiling, and fastening drywall to it presented more challenges than we were willing to face. It doesn't look so bad in this photo, but there is a layer of paint and wallpaper residue that won't entirely scrape off, yet seems to peel itself more and more every day.
Another weekend of excellent help!