I Wish I Had a Lot of Money

MY TO-DO LIST for 2010 is daunting.

In the past couple of months, I’ve come to a bit of a standstill on home improvements. Most of my list still lies before me. I wanted to do things fast when I first moved into this East Hampton cottage last May. On the other hand, it’s a good thing I waited on some of the projects, because I’ve changed my mind a lot.

Several months ago, I was thinking ‘stone patio.’ Now I’m thinking ‘wood deck.’

I was thinking ‘flagstone walk.’ Now I’m thinking….well, something else. I bought three 2’x3′ pieces of Pennsylvania bluestone and set them down to get an idea of how they’d look as a walk from the future parking court (still a priority) to the front door. Didn’t seem to work. Stone doesn’t have much place in this environment. There’s nary a piece of rock on the property, unlike upstate, where you’ve got massive granite outcroppings everywhere. This is sandy territory (well-drained, yeah!) Two feet of snow pelted by steady rain this past weekend got sucked right up into the ground, with very little puddling.

The wood fence for screening that seemed a must-do in high season, when there was a fair amount of road traffic, has faded in urgency (probably to return in May). I’d still like more enclosure, but I’ll try doing that with shrubs.

I’m glad I didn’t spend $4,000 on a deer fence, which seemed top priority a few months back. I haven’t seen any deer lately

Moments after I wrote the above words, I looked out the living room window and saw three large animals in the front yard. They were casing, if not yet munching, my newly planted arborvitae and holly. I rapped on the window. The rattling of the screens startled them for a nanosecond. I shrieked “Go! Go! Go!” One of them, a still-fuzzy adolescent, made eye contact with me. “Ohhhh, you’re beautiful,” I said.

Then I went and mixed up a couple of gallons of homemade deer repellent (cooking oil, dish detergent, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder) and went out and splashed the vulnerable specimens.

Instead of a deer fence, I’m embracing the challenge of deer-resistant gardening. So I won’t have roses. Or hostas. Or many other things.

Other items I thought were absolute musts turn out to be not so. Like the Malm fireplace I bought months ago that’s sitting uninstalled in my living room, through no fault of my own. First the roofer was going to do it; then he realized it was outside his “area of expertise.” Sag Harbor Fireplace came to do an estimate. I’m still waiting for the estimate. It’s their busy season.

Anyway, my little cottage is toasty. I know from experience that when you have a well-heated house, you don’t use the fireplace much. There’s one in the bedroom of the duplex in Boerum Hill. In the years we lived there, after spending thousands to line the chimney properly, we used it about twice.

Ultimately, it boils down to evil money, or lack thereof. My preference would still be to barrel through everything as quickly as possible. Of necessity, I have to do things in dribs and drabs. Which may not be so bad, if I’m going to keep changing my mind about them.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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10 Responses to I Wish I Had a Lot of Money

  1. Quinn says:

    I like the idea of stone patio.

  2. Eileen says:

    I’m ambivalent about replacing our steps made of railroad ties, which I don’t like. The landscape in East Hampton is unique, especially by the bay. Stone doesn’t seem to belong in the Springs, unless it’s gravel.

  3. cara says:

    hi Quinn and Eileen, thanks for commenting. Q, I love stone patios in general, but I want something beachier here. E, I’ll have to take a look at your steps by daylight sometime! I like RR ties as stair risers, with wide treads made of gravel. That’s a look that seems it would work with your house’s architecture – or maybe that’s what you already have and don’t like!

  4. learning as I go says:

    I’ve also made adjustments in priorities that I never expected. Some of them come from the experience of other seasons/conditions that had to be seen first.

    This makes me think of one of yours. If you want the option of a snow plow clearing your drive, you may need to design something a little wider than a plow, a little straighter at the beginning, with some high markers to call out the edges of planting beds.

    Me? I’ve still got to figure out where else to unload a cord of firewood before I can plant anything next to my gate!

  5. learning as I go says:

    Oh, and that money thing? Sign me up.

  6. cara says:

    Yes, learning, you’re quite right about living through at least one complete cycle of the seasons in order to get a fix on exactly what you need/want/don’t need/don’t want. It’s just hard for us impatient types to wait.

  7. I’m sure you will be happier with your final results because of the waiting and having a chance to really mull over these projects. There have been quite a few times when I waited on something and then came up with a much, much better plan.

    Interesting deer repellent. I think I read something about deer fencing on one of the blogs you link to on the left. It’s much more expensive than it looks like it would be. Of course, that’s always the case.

    Happy New Year!

  8. Hi Cara, FYI, the deer will eat anything when they’re hungry. Even with the repellent. I gave up. I feed them my compost.

  9. Keith says:

    How is the deer proofing going? I know hungry deer will eat so-called deer-resistant plants. I use deer off, which repels by using a bad, irritating taste and a nasty smell. Other brands only target one sense. I can’t smell it though once it dries.

  10. cara says:

    hi Keith, thanks for getting me to read back over this post from last December. Very instructive;-) Re the deer, my plan is still to forego the fencing and limit my planting to that which they will not eat. I know they’re said to eat anything at all if pressed, but my prized viburnum made it through the winter unscathed and that’s supposed to be iffy, deer-wise. Yet something has been munching the astilbes. Go figure. I don’t want to spend money on deer repellent. I’ll use the home-made version if need be. Meanwhile, they’re less visible on my property of late – must be finding enough to eat in the woods.

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